A recent study sponsored by American Express said that online and offline donations were generally the same size.

In this memorandum, Guest Agitators Nick Allen of Donordigital and Rob Harris of Target Analysis Group take exception. They argue that the hard data based on actual giving across a broad spectrum of nonprofits clearly establish that online donors make higher average gifts. They note that the AmEx study was based on phone interviews.

For all 24 groups studied by Allen/Harris in their donorCentrics Internet Giving Collaborative Benchmarking Report, online gift amounts were consistently higher than offline amounts … in 75% of these groups, average online gifts were at least twice as much.

Allen/Harris suggest three reasons:

  • virtually all the online gifts are via credit card;
  • online donors' household incomes are higher and people make small gifts from current income rather than from wealth; and,
  • online donors are generally younger, and younger donors typically make larger gifts than the age 65+ donors who dominate many direct mail files.

Our experience — from both the hard data and the survey data we've seen — definitely confirms what Nick and Rob report.

You can read their memo here.


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