Today I’m going to help you feel really smart: Your donors are online. There, that’s the thesis of this post.
In short order, digital has changed everything. Advancing technology has directly impacted the how, when and why donors give. If you want more proof than me just saying it, I’ve got three charts that reiterate the point.
Chart #1: The World Is Digital
Digital adoption is remarkable. More than half of the world’s 7.8 billion people are consistently leveraging the internet. Two-thirds of people have access to mobile tech and are mobile users. In fact, the smartphone IS internet access for many people, effectively blurring the line between mobile and internet.
A majority of people are also on social media. We are seeing double-digit percentage growth in social media usage (between 2018 and 2021 it jumped from 3.2 billion to 4.2 billion). According to Pew Research Group, 7 in 10 U.S. adults use Facebook.
More remarkable still is that nearly 1/2 of the 7.8 billion total population falls below the poverty line. The world prioritizes digital communication.
Chart #2: Donors are Giving Online
According to a study by the Blackbaud Institute, online giving increased by 20.7% in 2020 and now represents nearly 13% of total giving. This is the highest share of total giving on record.
When you look at the numbers by subsector, four groups have now crossed the 10% threshold for online fundraising as a percent of total fundraising (Animal Welfare, Faith-Based, Human Services and K-12 Education). We should expect this trend to continue.
Ashley Thompson, Director of the Blackbaud Institute says, “The events of 2020 paved the way for substantial disruption to the status quo. That has never been more apparent than in online giving, where it represented more than 1/8 of all giving in 2020–an impressive four-point increase year over year. Organizations would be keen to build on the momentum by ensuring a continued focus on digital progress.”
Chart #3: The U.S. Is a Mobile Country
Let’s spend one more chart on mobile. We’ve seen steady growth in mobile internet time (as a percentage of total internet time) over the past five years. The outcome? More and more, we are marketing to individuals who are accessing content in the palm of their hands.
What’s interesting is there are more U.S. mobile phones subscriptions than U.S. citizens. This can be accounted for by considering work accounts and personal cell phones.
Side stats for fundraisers marketing by phone: The increase in mobile is signaling the end of the landline. Five percent of Americans in 2000 had a cell phone, now 1 in 2 Americans own a cell. In the early 2000s, 93% of households had a landline; today it’s 44%
The Changing Fundraising Landscape
What’s critical to keep in mind is that we’re seeing people educate themselves before ever having a conversation with us. We have a self-directed donor.
Digital has given power to the consumer. They can research, compare and build their own perceptions of your brand without ever speaking to you or stepping into your office. It’s not necessarily about just putting content out there. It’s about purposeful, relevant and direct outreach that not only inspires and informs, but drives action.
A website is so much more than a place to “sell” visitors on your programs and services. A strong web presence should share your mission with an interested newcomer, demonstrate the impact of your work and provide clear action steps for getting involved. Existing donors should find easy, straightforward options to take their commitment to the next level.
With an intentional digital strategy, you can be part of a supporter’s daily life. Ensure that your online pages are reliable and readable, prioritizing the mobile experience. Provide an easy-to-follow donor journey on your planned giving websites. And don’t forget social media.
Make it easy for donors to use their phones, tablets and computers to make donations, to start the process of recommending a grant from a donor advised fund or, for those 70½ and older, to initiate a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA.
A year from now, if we share these likely-to-grow charts again, will you be confident that you’re putting your best marketing foot forward?