With over $350 million donated over the Internet to tsunami disaster relief efforts to date, nonprofit fundraisers are observing four trends in online giving:
- a large percentage of relief agency financial support is coming via the Internet;
- a vast majority of gifts to relief agencies are from new donors;
- more than half of new online donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies;
- nonprofits of all sizes are collecting relief funds online.
The most notable online giving trend is that a large percentage of relief agency support is coming via the Internet. For example, Save the Children USA, CARE USA, and Oxfam America – are reporting that 31%, 38%, and 80%, respectively, of total tsunami giving has come via their websites.
Save the Children USA, in Westport, CT, has raised $31 million for its relief efforts, with $9.5 million from the web. CARE USA, in Atlanta, has collected $16 million for its relief efforts, with Internet gifts accounting for $6.1 million of that total. Oxfam America, out of Boston, has raised $19.5 million, $13 million of which has come in online. Oxfam International affiliates have together raised more than $73 million for relief efforts.
“For this emergency, we’ve needed a whole new yardstick to measure the volume of donations that we’ve received online,” comments David Moore of Oxfam America. “People are sending us unsolicited donations via every means – online and by phone. For a few days between Christmas and New Year, our website was taking in over two million dollars a day. Donors are able to make an immediate online donation for relief, and we are then able to send them email updates about our long-term efforts to help rebuild these devastated communities.”
“At the peak, our online giving was coming in at the rate of $89,000 per hour, with traffic to our web site over 8 times the normal rate for December – a typically heavy month,” reports Ed Granger-Happ of Save the Children USA. “The scalability and reliability of GetActive’s system allowed us to handle this surge. The bottom line – we were able to get more resources to the field faster to assist with our relief efforts for children.”
Another online giving trend is that the Internet is becoming a vehicle for anonymous donors to make impulsive gifts. Many charities are noting that a vast majority of gifts to relief agencies are from new donors, many of whom are making gifts via the web for the first time.
A third online giving trend is that more than half of new donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies. “We usually hope to obtain donor information,” says Toby Smith, an Internet strategist with CARE USA, “but we’re looking on the bright side and are happy to see the donations when they’re most needed.”
A fourth online giving trend is that nonprofits of all sizes are collecting relief funds online. Entrepreneur Pete Kirkwood, who is based in Phuket, Thailand, got involved in tsunami relief with his family foundation, The Shawnee Institute. He was in the U.S. when the waves struck Asian shores, and quickly built an online campaign before returning home to Thailand. “We were able to get up and running very fast. Within five days we had gone from no organization with no list or funds to a full-blown online campaign. So far, we’ve raised over $71,000, with over $30,000 coming via our website, and expect ultimately to raise significantly more.”
More than $215 million was raised online in the aftermath of the U.S. terrorist attacks in September 2001.
Fundraising trends in the wake of the tsunami disaster are available online at http://www.getactive.com/tsunamirelief/. Sheeraz Haji is the CEO of GetActive Software.
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