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Online remains relatively ignored as a means of donating to charity. Only 8% of people with access to the internet have donated online in the last year, while overall 65% claim to have donated to charity using any method.

Direct debit and cheques remain considerably more important than the internet, with 21% and 13% of internet users respectively donating these ways. However, it does looks as if online donating is set to grow - 85% of those who have given online in the last year found it easier than using other methods.

Based only on the 8% of internet users making a charity donation online in the last year, 21% made regular payments while 83% had made a one-off payment in response to a specific appeal. The internet can enable charities to generate funding quickly in response to a particular disaster. The Tsunami appeal of three years ago saw large amounts pledged online, for example.

However, the internet can serve not just as a way to donate but also as a way to find out more about the activities of the charity. Many charities spend large sums on advertising, yet perhaps because this doesn't often lend itself to a complex message, much of this communication lacks concrete detail and tends to concentrate on the potential donors' emotions by highlighting the problem (for example, child abuse) that needs fixing, while having very limited information on how the money is spent to help do so. In particular, some TV charity campaigns push very hard the message that we should be giving, but (apart from a couple of ad hoc examples with a celebrity in tow) can be shy on concrete detail on how the money is spent.

Perhaps as a result of this approach, 42% of internet users donating to charity sometimes look at the charity's website before contributing to find out about the work they do. This is particularly common among the young, with 50% of 25-34-year-old donors at least sometimes looking at the charity's website before giving money.

Potential donors can use the internet to find out more about the work of individual charities and, for those so inclined, the charity could provide useful information on, for example, the proportion of the donation that will be soaked up by the cost of running a large Central London HQ (with the relatively high Central London salaries that this entails) or advertising, as opposed to being spent on the ground.

With the internet, donors can find out more about where their money is going rather than just handing over their cash blindly and trusting that their donation will benefit the intended cause.

James Myring, associate director, Continental Research


Published 22 November, 2007 by NMA Staff

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