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Online Giving Trending Up

There was some good news for nonprofit fundraisers this month, thanks to the recently released 2013 Charitable Giving Report from Blackbaud. This annual report reveals year-over-year changes in online and offline giving that you can use to measure your organization’s performance against other nonprofits.

Charitable and Online Giving Increased in 2013

According to the 2013 report, overall charitable giving grew 4.9% in 2013, while online giving grew 13.5%. In addition, 2013 was the second consecutive year that online giving experienced double-digit growth, a further positive sign that online fundraising is continuing an upward trend.

For nonprofits, a significant amount of online giving happens at the end of the year, with the highest percentage (17.5%) coming in December when donors are making their tax-deductible year-end gifts. In 2013, almost every sector raised more than 20% of its annual online giving during December.

This benchmark rings true for Merkle’s nonprofit clients as well, with some organizations raising 40% or more of their total online giving the last month of the year. For many nonprofits, the last days of December are their peak giving period, with the majority of gifts made on December 31 as donors claim their tax-deductible benefit before the calendar year ends.

December 31 Subject Lines

In fact, on December 31 nonprofit organizations jockey for position to be top-of-mind and top-of-email inbox as donors make decisions about their year-end charitable giving. The influx of email is unlike any other day of the year when donors can receive one, two and sometimes three emails during the final 24 hours of the year from their favorite charities asking for last-minute 2013 gifts.

We reviewed the subject lines from 160 nonprofit organizations’ messages sent on December 31 to see what words and phrases they were using to make the case for a final 2013 donation.

This word cloud was generated based on those email subject lines, with the most frequently occurring words appearing larger.

The most common phrase was “last chance,” perhaps not surprising in describing the closing window of opportunity to make a donation to earn 2013 tax benefits. Personalization played a role as well, with fifteen messages (9%) featuring first name in the subject line. Eight messages (5%) used faux forwards.

While there is no denying that December 31 emails drive donations at end-of-year, we saw an increase in the number of appeals and competition for donors’ attention, more so this year than in previous years. The over-saturation of inboxes during end of year fundraising may not diminish any time soon.

That’s why in 2014, savvy nonprofits will be looking at ways to do a better job of distributing and diversifying fundraising across email, social, mobile and other channels throughout the year.

Rick Gentry, Director, Strategy, contributed to this article.

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