Online Giving Increased 7.9 Percent in 2016, Study Finds

Online giving in the United States increased 7.9 percent in 2016, while overall giving was up a modest 1 percent, an annual report from Blackbaud finds.

Based on overall giving data from nearly seven thousand nonprofits and online giving data from more than five thousand organizations, the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact's Charitable Giving Report: How Nonprofit Fundraising Performed in 2016 (17 pages, PDF) found that the percentage of total fundraising revenue (excluding grants) from online giving reached a record 7.2 percent in 2016, up from 7.1 percent in 2015, with donations of at least $1,000 accounting for 10 percent of all online gifts. Midsize nonprofits with annual total fundraising revenue between $1 million and $10 million saw increases of 1.7 percent in overall giving and 11.4 percent in online giving, faring better than their smaller (0 percent and 8.1 percent) and larger (1 percent and 6.3 percent) counterparts. According to the report, 17 percent of online transactions were made via a mobile device in 2016, a 21 percent jump on a year-over-year basis.

The study also found that online giving in December increased for the second consecutive year, accounting for 21.8 percent of total online giving for the year, while online contributions in November accounted for 9.7 percent of the 2016 total, due primarily to #GivingTuesday donations, which increased 20 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Among issue areas, overall giving in support of K-12 education was up the most (7.5 percent), followed by arts and culture (3.7 percent) and medical research (2.2 percent), while giving fell in the areas of health care (-4.6 percent), public and society benefit (-1.3 percent), and the environment and animal welfare (-1.2 percent). Similarly, the arts and culture recorded the biggest increase (15.4 percent) in online giving, followed by higher education (12.3 percent), public society and benefit (12.3 percent), and the environment and animal welfare (10.9 percent), while medical research (-3.6 percent) and international affairs (-0.8 percent) recorded the biggest declines.

Now in its fifth edition, this year's report also includes insights from experts in the sector, including Jason Lee, interim president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, who pointed out that "we are seeing more giving, but fewer donors. That speaks to the work that charities must do to improve their retention and cultivation of donors by creating a culture of philanthropy and telling their stories of impact and change."