Social Networking, Mobile Giving, and Online Fundraising

Discussions of online fundraising tend to focus on technology and the latest new bell, whistle or widget.  Raising funds online is not about technology, any more than raising funds through the mail is about paper. It’s about the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor who wants to support a cause. People who give online are no different from other donors in that they expect a relationship—not simply a transaction—with the organization they support. *

A recent study by Network for Good revealed that $381 million was given to over 66, 000 nonprofit organizations through 3.6 million online transactions. 

Giving through charity websites reached higher levels than giving via giving portals such as Network for Good and via social giving opportunities available through Facebook and other social media.   The findings clearly indicate that the higher the level of personal connection to the organization, the larger and more frequent the online gifts.  Relationships still matter to online donors.

What is striking is that with such substantial online giving, only five percent (5%) of the gifts were to Religion compared to thirty percent (30%) to Human Service, thirteen percent (13%) to Health, and eleven percent (11%) to Education.   Of the small segment of gifts to religion, more were made through social giving opportunities than the other venues.

In looking at the survey findings, it appears religious organizations and congregations may need to consider making more online giving opportunities available through their websites and giving portals. 

Do we as religious leaders fear online giving is too impersonal and may undermine the relationships of the faith community?

Are we unable or unwilling to incur the cost of upgrading our modern technology for fundraising and giving purposes?

Are our religious communities stuck in old approaches to fundraising due to a lack of awareness? Or are we simply resisting the use of new, untested “secular” approaches?

Does online giving raise concerns among your congregants as a theological issue or as a practical matter?  

You are invited to participate in the following Giving Speaks poll.  It may help religious leaders to gain greater understanding about our opinions and reactions to this fundraising trend.  Together we can explore ways for making effective use of online giving venues that reflect our religious values with integrity while nurturing relationships in new ways.

*For more information about the Network for Good’s Online Giving Study: