Money & Business

Study: Recurring Donations, Mobile Drive Long-Term Value for Nonprofits

By / May 2, 2018 (Giniatulina/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A new report from the fundraising service Classy finds that monthly donors often stick with a plan for a year or longer, making them nearly four and a half times as valuable as one-time donors. Also noteworthy: Giving Tuesday and mobile access are big interest drivers.

If you’re looking to build your nonprofit’s fundraising power, you can’t do much better than signing up recurring donors.

Recurring donors represent nearly four and a half times the long-term value of one-time donors, according to The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends [registration], a new report from Classy, a maker of online fundraising software. The company’s data science team scoured results from its software and uncovered a few fascinating trends:

Recurring small donations outpace larger individual gifts. One-time donations drew in a median of $50 and an average of $120 on Classy’s platform. In comparison, the median monthly recurring gift was $25 and the average was $38—but they tended to continue over a period of 13 months, bringing significantly more value to the organization.

Giving Tuesday is a great day for acquisition. If you’re looking to reach new audiences, Giving Tuesday is a place to grow. Classy found that on Giving Tuesday, organizations acquired three to five times the number of new donors as they would on a typical day. But while it’s a great method for bringing in new donors, there’s definitely room for growth. According to the bench mark, only 15 percent of donors donate again before the next Giving Tuesday, while Giving Tuesday donors are three to four times more likely to launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign after Giving Tuesday, compared to more traditional year-end efforts.

Mobile and social are kings of views—and friends drive the transactions. More than half of traffic to nonprofit websites (53 percent) comes from mobile devices, and three-fifths of that mobile traffic comes from social media. (Further, 89 percent of the social traffic on mobile comes from Facebook.) Reflecting this emphasis on social media, a significant chunk of mobile transaction volume comes not from donations on a nonprofit’s website but through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. “This suggests that peers are really engaging with their friends as much as—if not more than—the organization itself,” the report states.

In a news release, Dr. Ben Cipollini, Classy’s director of engineering and data insights, noted that the results highlight a need for diverse tactics.

“Online fundraising isn’t a single thing—today’s digital philanthropists can engage through mobile, interact with different campaign types like peer-to-peer or crowdfunding, commit to a recurring gift, register for events, and participate in unplanned inflection points like disasters and political events,” Cipollini said. “To that end, nonprofits need to demonstrate more flexibility and strategy in their fundraising than ever before, so we created this report to shine a light on their common paths to growth.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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