Are Online Donors Loyal?

The nytimes ran an article reporting on Blackbaud Inc.’s recent findings that first time online donors do not remain loyal to the cause.

People who go online to donate to charity for the first time often do not return to the Internet to make later gifts, according to a new study examining the experience of 24 nonprofit groups.

I have just wrapped up a two part article for Inside Direct Mail’s April and May issues on “The Obama Effect,” which examines multichannel fundraising efforts in the wake of the Obama for America campaign’s unprecedented total of half a billion dollars raised online in small gifts.

In my findings, leading marketers said that donors who used online, direct mail, and telemarketing to give- i.e. multichannel donors- gave higher average gifts and exhibited more loyalty than single channel donors. (Look for the article soon in my “clips”category on this blog). In a way, the Blackbaud study cited in the nytimes is a bit one dimensional. If you don’t properly cultivate the first time online donor, than yes you might lose them. But the experts I spoke with had plans to capture as many of those new donors as possible and convert them to loyal constituents.

One area of the nytimes article that I’d agree with is that the demographics of online donors are more attractive than the typical direct mail fundraising audience.

“Online giving is higher than offline giving, and the demographics of online givers are more attractive — better educated, higher income,” said Tobias Smith, director of online communications at CARE, which took part in the study and works on issues faced by poor women.

The majority of direct mail donors in fundraising are over 55 years old. Now that internet savvy baby boomers are edging into that category more and more- the mix of channels is going to have to increasingly include online. This will only help multichannel fundraisers net more generation X, Y, and millenial donors too.

What do you think about first time online donors?

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