Online fundraising leader Network for Good has released a landmark study on conjunction with TrueSense Marketing that examines online gifts of $381 million to more than 66,000 charities over the last seven years. The study analyzes 3.6 million donations and provides key insights into online donation trends, donor-charity relationships and the emergence of online giving. Network for Good has released a number of groundbreaking research papers in the past, including How Crisis Compels Donors to Give Online in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and The Wired Fundraiser, which took an in-depth look at the role of technology in fundraising. The full study is available from www.OnlineGivingStudy.org, but we’ve compiled some of the key takeaways for you here.

Network for Good looked into the relationships between charities and their donors, both in an online and offline capacity. The development of a bond between charities and donors, well-documented in offline giving, has shown to be a significant factor in online giving also. The study showed that even small improvements in relationship-building or online experience can mean big differences in donations. Network for Good, while seeing tremendous potential for social network giving, has traditionally seen the strongest bonds develop between donors branded charity websites.

Donors also showed a few different trends when analyzed over longer periods of time. Those who gave on charity-specific websites started at high giving levels and proved to be the best long-term donors. Donors connecting through generic giving portals donated fairly frequently but with a lesser amount, and those who gave via social networks started small and were infrequent donors. Additionally, new donors seemed to be the most apt to donate in the wake of a disaster no matter the time of year while legacy donors gave heavily in December.

Network for Good was founded in 2001 by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo! to make it as easy to donate and volunteer online as it is to shop online. In less than ten years, the nonprofit has raised more than $437 million and facilitated countless more donations through its research and innovation, which includes SixDegrees.org,Causes on Facbeook, and The Good Card.

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