Enter the terms ‘donor’ and ‘digital’ into Google and you get 13,600,000 results.

Yesterday Google itself added to the searchable research pile on donors’ digital behavior.

In a study titled The Path to Donation (download summary here), Google and the market researchers from MillwardBrown Digital revealed that donor research leading up to year-end giving starts early and spans multiple sources.

The study outlines 7 steps on how contributions are digitally driven:

  • The year-end giving process starts early. There is a 30% increase in donation-related searches from August to September.
  • Process begins with ‘search’. 75% of all contribution-related research begins online.
  • “Video informs, inspires & influences.” 57% of donors make a contribution after watching a video. Surprise: Google’s YouTube is the #1 video site.
  • Mobile is massive. 40% of donors conduct research on their mobile device and 25% donate using that device.
  • Not sole source. Donors compare and evaluate options. Nearly 50% visit multiple nonprofit sites prior to giving.
  • Mission and brand most important. 74% contribute because they believe in the mission.
  • Online giving channel most influential. Donors find online channels 20% more useful than direct mail. The study is silent on the degree to which direct mail triggers online transactions.

Here’s Google’s summary of the research methodology.

I spoke with the folks from Google about their study. Clearly they’re releasing the research now to emphasize the importance that early online research plays in lining up gifts for year-end — and to trigger AdWords and other Google advertising by nonprofits. A smart move for Google.

And  one more valuable reminder for all nonprofits to ‘start early’ in preparing for the year-end/holiday season –the period when as much as 40% the year’s online giving occurs.

And while you’re giving thought to whether you should be stepping up your online advertising budget don’t forget get your other digital assets — landing pages, messages, etc. — in shape also. See my post 141 Shopping Days Left Until Christmas for some helpful suggestions.

Finally, the Google study should once again remind us all of the importance of video — 79% of donors surveyed agreed that video was the most influential of the information sources; within 24 hours after seeing a video, 39% of donors looked up the organization; and 57% of the folks who watched a video made a contribution.

As you work through your plans for preparing for the year-end giving season — plans you are hopefully working on right now! — you might also want to check out Tom’s piece, Video Lifts Email Response for some additional and helpful hints about the importance of video.

What steps are you taking to drive donors online to your organization this holiday season?

Roger

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