Recent evidence reveals the remarkable growth in online giving. We explore some of the most interesting findings
During the COVID-19 pandemic, UK internet use has more than doubled, with more people than ever before engaging with each other and organisations online. Online gaming, streaming, and home working have all fuelled a massive increase in internet use over the last, pandemic-hit year.
But how has this growth impacted on giving online?
Here we look at some of the latest research taking place to show to what extent charities have managed to convert heightened internet use into donations.
The early signs certainly look promising, especially the results of a major piece of research on online giving, this year’s Online Donation Report by agency WPNC.
The report found that online giving has doubled during the pandemic, matching the doubling of internet use over the same period. Data gathered from £40m worth of giving through its online donations platform, goDonate, was looked at for this research. The report found that online donations grew by 115% in volume and by 97% in income.
The growth was particularly pronounced among large charities, with a total annual income of between £5m and £20m. The number of online donations rocketed by 186% and by 156% in value among this group.
The largest UK charities, with an annual income of more than £20m, also saw significant growth, by 113% in volume and 94% in value.
But this growth is far slower for small charities, of between £1m and £5m total income. This group of charities saw growth by volume of online donations of just 30% and the income increase was 48%.
Small charities, which rely on event fundraising and were unable to swiftly pivot their events, fundraising and operations online struggled, says the report.
Another interesting finding from the report was the seasonal nature of online giving amid the pandemic. This found that donors and supporters were more likely to give during the first few weeks of lockdown. But this interest tailed off as 2020 played out, before picking up again ahead of Christmas.
WPNC found that more than a quarter (25%) of all online donations in 2020 took place in April and May. Around a fifth of donations were made in December, a traditional crucial time in the fundraising calendar.
Looking ahead, charities are advised to look at any online fundraising successes in the initial days of the pandemic and harness that enthusiasm among donors across the year.
Another useful piece of advice from the report is that the time of the week to target donors online is key. It found that Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are the most popular days, when almost 50% of donations are made. Charities are advised to time their online fundraising pushes on these days.
In addition, the way donors give online is changing, with the volume of card payments falling among many charities. Supporters are instead favouring digital wallets, including ApplePay and Google Pay
The percentage of one-off donations made via ApplePay grew from 3.1% in 2019 to 7.0% in 2020. WPNC found that one large charity received 46% of its online donations made on mobile devices through ApplePay.
Google Pay still represents a small proportion of online giving methods but over the same period increased its share from 0.8% to 1.1%. Meanwhile, card payments fell from 64.2% to 56.4% between 2019 and 2020. This looks to be a trend that will continue into 2021 and beyond.
The COVID-19 Impact Monitor, run by fundraising consultancy Freestyle Marketing and strategic and creative fundraising agency Open, is another piece of recent evidence into the growth of online giving during the health crisis.
This research, involving charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, British Red Cross, Oxfam, and Barnardo’s, found that the number of donations made online grew by 70% during the pandemic.
“A significant increase in time spent online by the public in general – and a surge in adoption of online transactions by core donor demographics – will certainly have helped but there’s no denying the scale of the change,” said the report.
The Impact Monitor looked at interest among supporters in charities’ social media activity, such as promotion of its fundraising and marketing campaigns. This offers further clues to how the sector can harness the growth of online giving and best target donors.
Instagram and Youtube looks to the be key area of growth for charities looking to attract donations. While Instagram saw growth of 27% among all followers between 2019 and 2020, the rise was 82% among charity followers.
Similarly, the growth in charity followers via Youtube was 52% over the same period, compared to 43% among all followers. In contrast, the growth among charity supporters on Twitter was minimal, just 3%, despite the platform seeing a surge of 21% in all users.