fundraising, Mobile Fundraising, technology

What Will Online Giving Look Like Next Year?

33 Comments 01 December 2009

Online Giving. What will it look like a year from now? I jotted down an abbreviated timeline that captures some of the major developments in online giving, below:

History of online donations

Based on this graphic, I’ve put together my thoughts about online giving trends and technology for 2010. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, as well:

1. Project-based donation solutions.

Organizational online donations will continue, but project-specific donations will be where organizations will see the interest and growth. Nonprofits know that fundraising is personal, specific, and identifiable.  Even Causes has recently added the Donor Choices option which allows organizations to preselect donation levels that fund specific projects.  Generalized donation portals (Razoo, JustGive, Firstgiving) now highlight specific organizational projects, such as  “donate to a women’s self-defense project,” or “build an ice skating rink.” In the coming year, I see the rise of project-specific soliciting, and donation solutions to meet these needs.

2. The rise of niche donation networks.

In recent years, niche networks are also rising and thriving. JGooders (donations to Israeli and Jewish causes) and IsraelGives (donation to an Israeli charity) both launched in 2009. DonorsChoose launched in 2000 to connect donors with classrooms in need. I also view Jokona as a niche network as well – small projects, worldwide. Just as organizations are beginning to solicit donors for specific projects, niche networks will solicit specific types of donors and match them to their ideal projects. In 2010, I think that we will continue to see the rise of new niche donation portals and networks, and the eventual merging of others in the years thereafter.

3. The emergence of cross-platform donation and donation portability.

In the future I see the ability to be able to donate to a specific project or nonprofit organization across many platforms. Giving Impact is a great example of this. Giving Impact is an online website donation tool designed for specific project campaigns. It is similar to the “donate here” button, but with custom dashboard analysis, and integration allowing individuals to “share” donation impact to their Facebook profiles. Giving Impact just announced that they will be offering a Facebook application allowing integration of the Giving Impact tool with Facebook. It is also built with an API so developers can further design/extend this tool.

One other example of this, though not seamless, is the YouTube Nonprofit Program. Participants can create a “call to action” within the video, or a video overlay, to donate off of YouTube. This isn’t a seamless integration, but it allows portability of donations.

Nonprofits want one donation solution that they can port to wherever their stakeholders hang out online. They don’t want to create a zillion donation profiles and projects in order to get to everyone. I’m hoping that the technology and will develops to meet this need, and that we see the rise of cross-platform donation tools, and donation portability such as the tool developed by Giving Impact.

4. The rise of mobile giving.

Mobile charitable fundraising has been growing since 2008. Today, approximately 400 nonprofits are running mobile donation campaigns, the average donation is rising from $5 to $10, and US charities expect to receive a total of $2 million from mobile fundraising in 2009, according to Mobile Marketer. (Two examples of providers of mobile-based giving in the US are Mobile Commons and Mobile Giving.) Mobile giving is growing in acceptance in countries around the world as well. The rising adoption of smartphones, coupled with the mobile familiarity of the millennial generation, makes this is a trend worth watching. The challenge for nonprofits is to creatively think about integrating mobile giving and social media.

5. Cultural acceptance of social network-based giving.

One of the things that I’ve argued is that users on social network sites aren’t culturally used to donating while on a the network. That’s where they discuss life’s issues. However, that’s finally changing. Online donations via Causes on Facebook and twitter rallies have become more popular. In the coming year, I’m predicting the rise of more fundraising options that integrate with social networks. Along these lines, there’s an interesting post by Joe Solomon that considers what a Twitter fundraising tool would look like.

NOTE: I’m updating this blog post (as of December 9) to include a link to the wonderful slide presentation entitled: The Future of Online Revenue Generation for Charities, by Amy Sample Ward. She places it in a slightly different context than I do, focusing on future demand for better processes, relationships (and empowering supporters), leveraging social media, the gift economy, and authenticity. She also includes some great data about online giving trends.

What do you think? Do you agree with me, or disagree? Can you add to this list, or edit it? I’d also love feedback on the graphic above!

I want to thank my twitter friends who helped me identify some key timelines for the graphic above: John Carnell, Katrin Verclas, Mobile Commons, and Chris Dougherty. Thanks for listening, y’all!

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  • Johanna Bates

    I think that people may start using social media tools to pool micro-donations into larger ones. It would be pretty darn awesome of some of the SM fund raising tools supported this kind of micro-pooling, and maybe pooled match funds.

    I’ve noticed an increase in the pooled match during local NPR pledge, and think it would translate well to a social media environment. I know I would personally respond to that kind of giving opportunity–it seems a good way to make a bigger impact in a poor economy.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Wonderful point, Johanna! This could well be a trend to watch, and I’m really glad you pointed it out. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    [Reply]

  • Johanna Bates

    I think that people may start using social media tools to pool micro-donations into larger ones. It would be pretty darn awesome of some of the SM fund raising tools supported this kind of micro-pooling, and maybe pooled match funds.

    I’ve noticed an increase in the pooled match during local NPR pledge, and think it would translate well to a social media environment. I know I would personally respond to that kind of giving opportunity–it seems a good way to make a bigger impact in a poor economy.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Wonderful point, Johanna! This could well be a trend to watch, and I’m really glad you pointed it out. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    [Reply]

  • @Johanna Bates

    By way of introduction I am a Principal of Minds On Design Lab and one of the minds behind Giving Impact.

    I think this is a great point as well. If I follow your thoughts on pooling, I totally agree that a multichannel online approach can be quite powerful and educational. A campaign that can have an active presence such as on the org’s website, their Facebook page, a microsite, a hash tag on Twitter, and having them feed into the same donation experience and giving “bucket” allows for an organization to maximize potential and learn from their promotional and outreach efforts to see where their campaigns are engaging an audience as well as where more work may be needed.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Seth- I totally agree with you, about both the multi-channel online approach and the ability to gauge results from each channel. That’s what I’m hoping Giving Impact will be able to do one day 🙂

    [Reply]

  • @Johanna Bates

    By way of introduction I am a Principal of Minds On Design Lab and one of the minds behind Giving Impact.

    I think this is a great point as well. If I follow your thoughts on pooling, I totally agree that a multichannel online approach can be quite powerful and educational. A campaign that can have an active presence such as on the org’s website, their Facebook page, a microsite, a hash tag on Twitter, and having them feed into the same donation experience and giving “bucket” allows for an organization to maximize potential and learn from their promotional and outreach efforts to see where their campaigns are engaging an audience as well as where more work may be needed.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Seth- I totally agree with you, about both the multi-channel online approach and the ability to gauge results from each channel. That’s what I’m hoping Giving Impact will be able to do one day 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Well stated and it seems to follow other trends associations and nonprofits are seeing. I agree that micro-donations, along with micro-volunteering and micro-payments, and ultimately, micro-pooling may make a rise. It will be interesting to watch for sure.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jeff, Johanna, this is exactly why I write posts – because the best ideas come bubbling up in the comments. I’m now looking forward to the micro-pooling tools that will emerge. $10 can make a difference, but wow, $200 pooled by 20 friends can make a much larger impact.

    [Reply]

  • Well stated and it seems to follow other trends associations and nonprofits are seeing. I agree that micro-donations, along with micro-volunteering and micro-payments, and ultimately, micro-pooling may make a rise. It will be interesting to watch for sure.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jeff, Johanna, this is exactly why I write posts – because the best ideas come bubbling up in the comments. I’m now looking forward to the micro-pooling tools that will emerge. $10 can make a difference, but wow, $200 pooled by 20 friends can make a much larger impact.

    [Reply]

  • Hey Debra – This is terrific! I’m preparing slides for a presentation I’m giving on Tuesday on ‘the future of online revenue generation for charities’ and will definitely include your graphic (and link to you!). I think the changing functionality that enables connections and conversation to move across platforms will definitely affect the way online giving develops and am most interested in the differences between organization or beneficiary-powered fundraising vs individual or supporter-driven fundraising.

    Thanks for working on this and sharing it so succinctly!

    [Reply]

  • Hey Debra – This is terrific! I’m preparing slides for a presentation I’m giving on Tuesday on ‘the future of online revenue generation for charities’ and will definitely include your graphic (and link to you!). I think the changing functionality that enables connections and conversation to move across platforms will definitely affect the way online giving develops and am most interested in the differences between organization or beneficiary-powered fundraising vs individual or supporter-driven fundraising.

    Thanks for working on this and sharing it so succinctly!

    [Reply]

  • I tried posting yesterday but it doesn’t show up, so I’m trying again…

    Thanks for this great post, Debra! A lot of work went into this and it’s a great resource! I’m preparing to give a presentation on Tuesday on the topic of “the future of online revenue generation for charities” and I will definitely be using your graphic/chart (and pointing people to you!).

    What’s most interesting to me are the differences between organization or beneficiary-driven fundriasing efforts and individual or supporter-driven fundraising efforts. I think that the evolving technologies that really lean more towards individuals in relationships, conversations, etc. will change or further accentuate the differences between opportunities for raising funds online to support causes.

    Looking forward to continuing this conversation – will send you the link to the slides for my preso when they are up as well!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Amy – would love the slides. I’ll link to them from this blog post, to add value to future readers. I think you pointed out something I might have missed: fundraising that is organization-driven vs. organization-driven. That’s a really interesting idea to think of in terms of: how is social media changing these two aspects? Does it enable the two sides to move together, or further apart? Good food for thought, and probably an entirely different graphic! Great comment, thanks for starting this line of thought.

    [Reply]

  • I tried posting yesterday but it doesn’t show up, so I’m trying again…

    Thanks for this great post, Debra! A lot of work went into this and it’s a great resource! I’m preparing to give a presentation on Tuesday on the topic of “the future of online revenue generation for charities” and I will definitely be using your graphic/chart (and pointing people to you!).

    What’s most interesting to me are the differences between organization or beneficiary-driven fundriasing efforts and individual or supporter-driven fundraising efforts. I think that the evolving technologies that really lean more towards individuals in relationships, conversations, etc. will change or further accentuate the differences between opportunities for raising funds online to support causes.

    Looking forward to continuing this conversation – will send you the link to the slides for my preso when they are up as well!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Amy – would love the slides. I’ll link to them from this blog post, to add value to future readers. I think you pointed out something I might have missed: fundraising that is organization-driven vs. organization-driven. That’s a really interesting idea to think of in terms of: how is social media changing these two aspects? Does it enable the two sides to move together, or further apart? Good food for thought, and probably an entirely different graphic! Great comment, thanks for starting this line of thought.

    [Reply]

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  • connie johnson

    Giving donors choices about projects to fund goes along with donor education about the mission and cause they are supporting. I’m wondering a lot right now about converting those prospects who have a passing interest in the organization into active participants of and donors to the organization. It comes back to being connected and involved and pushing relevant information out to them. Not specifically what your post is about, but on my mind…

    [Reply]

  • connie johnson

    Giving donors choices about projects to fund goes along with donor education about the mission and cause they are supporting. I’m wondering a lot right now about converting those prospects who have a passing interest in the organization into active participants of and donors to the organization. It comes back to being connected and involved and pushing relevant information out to them. Not specifically what your post is about, but on my mind…

    [Reply]

  • Pingback: The Future of Online Revenue Generation for Charities « Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NPTech()

  • Thanks for this, Debra. I’m excited about the pooling idea, too, mentioned in the comments. Any chance you’re foreseeing a greater connection between donations and ‘deep’ involvement with causes, like using technology to convert donors into activists, and vice versa? The tools are there, but we too often sort people into silos, you know? And, from my experience, the first and last trends are connected–most of the NPOs with which I work have had greatest success with Causes when they have a specific project appeal.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @Melinda- I agree with you that Causes is much more effective when it has specific project appeal. I have also seen that specific projects listed within the larger “giving portals” (such as JGooders) also garner more funds than organizational appeals. Just as advertising companies drill down to the specific demographics of who they are appealing to, and where those demographics frequent online, fundraising tools will also develop to help nonprofits ID and connect donors and projects.

    I would think that converting donors to activists is the “holy grail” of fundraising. Also vice-versa – getting activists to give. These are the most highly qualified and committed donors, after all. I’m seeing the rise of “soft” activism encouraged by online technology (signing online petitions, forwarding an email) right now, and also how this is linked through Causes right now The Lupus Foundation of America, for example, uses Facebook Causes as its action center, which has resulted in increased online donations to the LFA via Causes. More tools like this should be forthcoming, and I hope they are!

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for this, Debra. I’m excited about the pooling idea, too, mentioned in the comments. Any chance you’re foreseeing a greater connection between donations and ‘deep’ involvement with causes, like using technology to convert donors into activists, and vice versa? The tools are there, but we too often sort people into silos, you know? And, from my experience, the first and last trends are connected–most of the NPOs with which I work have had greatest success with Causes when they have a specific project appeal.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @Melinda- I agree with you that Causes is much more effective when it has specific project appeal. I have also seen that specific projects listed within the larger “giving portals” (such as JGooders) also garner more funds than organizational appeals. Just as advertising companies drill down to the specific demographics of who they are appealing to, and where those demographics frequent online, fundraising tools will also develop to help nonprofits ID and connect donors and projects.

    I would think that converting donors to activists is the “holy grail” of fundraising. Also vice-versa – getting activists to give. These are the most highly qualified and committed donors, after all. I’m seeing the rise of “soft” activism encouraged by online technology (signing online petitions, forwarding an email) right now, and also how this is linked through Causes right now The Lupus Foundation of America, for example, uses Facebook Causes as its action center, which has resulted in increased online donations to the LFA via Causes. More tools like this should be forthcoming, and I hope they are!

    [Reply]

  • Michael Goldfarb

    I really enjoyed this post. I agree that project-specific donations make it easier for non-profit organizations to make their message personal. However, these organizations also need to balance specific project related funding with the funding needs of the entire organization.

    Emergency relief organizations often are able to raise a lot of funds in response to a specific disaster (like Hurricane Katrina). However, these organizations struggle at times to raise funds for the day-to-day work. It’s a challenge to find the right balance.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Michael- thanks for stopping by to comment. As you rightly point out, some specific-project related fundraising calls attention to the problem and less to the entire organization’s needs. That’s a great point, but also more of a large discussion about development strategies for organizations. I think the interesting thing is that both donation platforms and donors feel that it’s easier to source and attract project-specific funds from donors that feel a stronger attraction to a more specific need. The challenge, which stems from your comment, becomes: how can organizations do as good a job at branding the need for overall funding as they do for project-specific funding?

    [Reply]

  • Michael Goldfarb

    I really enjoyed this post. I agree that project-specific donations make it easier for non-profit organizations to make their message personal. However, these organizations also need to balance specific project related funding with the funding needs of the entire organization.

    Emergency relief organizations often are able to raise a lot of funds in response to a specific disaster (like Hurricane Katrina). However, these organizations struggle at times to raise funds for the day-to-day work. It’s a challenge to find the right balance.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Michael- thanks for stopping by to comment. As you rightly point out, some specific-project related fundraising calls attention to the problem and less to the entire organization’s needs. That’s a great point, but also more of a large discussion about development strategies for organizations. I think the interesting thing is that both donation platforms and donors feel that it’s easier to source and attract project-specific funds from donors that feel a stronger attraction to a more specific need. The challenge, which stems from your comment, becomes: how can organizations do as good a job at branding the need for overall funding as they do for project-specific funding?

    [Reply]

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  • Interesting post!!! I am totally agree with you about this matter. This article shows that you have really done some hard work. Thanks for that.

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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