Research suggests just 5% of UK charities feel they are making the most of online fundraising


Some interesting research undertaken by online fundraising specialists Justgiving has been shared by Jonathan Waddingham, their Charity Champion (and an especially active Twitter user), in this month’s issue of Professional Fundraising Magazine.

Carried-out during the summer 2008, the research is based on responses from 656 charities who use the Justgiving online fundraising platform and was undertaken to help better understand the current state of online fundraising in the UK.

One revealing finding was that just 5% of respondents said that they feel they’re ‘making the most of online fundraising’, with 56% in the ‘having a good go, but could do better’ category, 22% who feel they are ‘trailing other charities but not sure what to do next’, and 17% ‘way behind’.

Given the potential complexity of delivering online fundraising solutions within the fast evolving social media world I can understand only a small number being sufficiently bullish to say they are ‘making the most’ of the opportunities. But the 39% who ‘aren’t sure what to do’ or ‘feel way behind’ is a worrying statistic given how well understood some of the key forms of online fundraising, such as the Justgiving platform, now are.

As worrying is the fact that 64% describe their online fundraising as ‘adhoc’ and 48% say they do not have an online fundraising plan. It seems that a lot of organisations are still simply leaving online income to chance, without any of the detailed planning and analysis that typifies fundraising through offline channels. Given the old adage that ‘you get what you ask for’, this situation is presumably a key factor in the finding that 49% of respondents receive 10% or less of their income online (with 13% unable to say).

Is it that there is no significant income opportunity online, or is the sector still simply not taking the opportunity seriously enough? 65% of the organisations surveyed apparently feel that their on line fundraising has met or exceeded their income expectations over the last 12 months. So could it simply be that a chronic lack of expectation is underlying the absence of any real drive to capitalise on the opportunities offered by online fundraising in a systematic and planned way?

You can read Jonathan’s full write-up of the Justgiving research here.


2 thoughts on “Research suggests just 5% of UK charities feel they are making the most of online fundraising

  1. Hi Bryan. Thanks for the interesting reaction. There are still some more results from this that we’ll be sharing this month, but my overall feeling was that there was still some trepidation for a lot of charities as to how to make the most of the medium. I’m not sure we can still class ‘online fundraising’ as something ‘new’ as an excuse for not making the most of it, but I think there’s a feeling that there’s no authoritative voice speaking out on how to do it, or people are still looking for leadership on exactly what to do.

    But I think you have put your finger on the main issue, which is that the medium is not being taken as seriously as traditional methods, and the rigour, time, and investment in the traditional methods are not being replicated in the online sphere. And this despite the encouraging results that exceed expectations.

    Hopefully, we’ll see more charities focus on making their online donor/fundraising development plans as good as their offline methods in 2009 and then reap the returns that are arguably inevitable.

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