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High Hopes for Holiday Giving

(Nov. 30, 2010) Convio estimates that U.S. giving during the 2010 holiday season to nonprofit organizations will be more than $48 billion across all giving channels -- including online, direct mail and  donation at checkout -- as more than 174 million adult Americans plan to give money to charity between Thanksgiving and year-end. Online giving alone is estimated to account for more than $6 billion, an increase of more than 30 percent from this same period in 2009.

"The results are encouraging as Americans seem to put aside the economic challenges to support the nonprofit sector and the good work charities do in our society," said Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the largest association of philanthropic fundraisers in the world.  "With the nonprofit sector representing more than 5 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) and employing about 10 percent of the American workforce, the year-end giving season is critical to the success of the many organizations that have a significant impact on our culture and communities."

The 2010 Holiday Giving Survey conducted by Edge Research on behalf of Convio, reveals that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of adults plan to make a charitable contribution this holiday season, and a majority of holiday donors (60 percent) plan to give $100 or more.

Survey highlights show that:  

  • Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of adults plan to give this holiday season. With average total gifts of $281, the anticipated amount raised by nonprofit organizations will be more than $48 billion.
  • Giving is profoundly multi-channel. Seven-in-ten donors will give in multiple ways such as direct through the mail, online through websites, at events, or as they leave stores after holiday shopping. Donors who give online are particularly generous, donating a total of approximately $13.7 billion through all channels with more than $6 billion being given online. Not to be ignored are the non-traditional forms of giving--tipping, third party purchases and purchases from charity gift shops.
  • Holiday giving is emotional. Donors say that appeals that put a face to the donation (either human or animal), and remind donors to help those who are less fortunate at this time of year, are most persuasive.
  • Holiday giving is particularly effective with harder-to-reach Generations X and Y, as large percentages of these groups intend to give and give generously -- 83 percent of Gen Y plan to give, while 79 percent of Gen X say they will give.

Multichannel Donations

Donors are projected to give through a variety of different channels this holiday season, with 72 percent giving in two or more ways, such as direct mail and online. A substantial 25 percent of high-dollar donors and 21 percent of holiday givers will make online donations, emphasizing the importance of nonprofits adopting an integrated marketing strategy. High-dollar donors are individuals who have given at least $1,000 to a single charity in the last 18 months.

"The results reinforce the need for nonprofit organizations and professional fundraisers to embrace technologies that create the best experience and engagement possible for donors be it through the web, social and digital technologies or through traditional direct mail, events or face-to-face giving," added Maehara. "The reality is that all these channels matter and they all work together to reach, engage and inspire people to support the many nonprofits that are playing an increasingly important role in shaping our world."

Social media is still an emerging vehicle for holiday donations -- 9 percent say they might be solicited through Facebook, Twitter or another social network; and about half of those (4 percent) say they will give through these outlets. 

Average Donation Dollars

The average total amount holiday givers plan to donate is $281, while high-dollar donors' average projected donations totalling $952. More than half (55 percent) will spread their contributions across two or three organizations, and 23 percent will give to four or more organizations. Two-thirds (66 percent) plan to donate the same amount as last year, and 12 percent plan to increase their contributions this holiday season.

"Digital technologies - such as email, online and social media - continue to play a key role in the evolution of fundraising and constituent interaction for nonprofits," said Gene Austin, CEO of Convio. "Today's donor is engaging with nonprofits through more channels than ever before. The research shows that engaging online with donors has significant upside for nonprofits as donors with an online relationship plan to donate almost $100 more per person than the average donor and are the most generous donors overall as they plan to give more than $13.7B through all channels this holiday season."

Most Popular Charity Sectors

Support spans a variety of charitable sectors, but the biggest recipients of holiday donations are Human and Social Service organizations with 50 percent of donors, while Faith-based organizations come in second with 45 percent of donors. Next are Disease and Health Services at 29 percent and Animal Welfare organizations at 25 percent.  Disaster and International Relief at 19 percent and Education-related organizations at 15 percent are in the next tier.

High-dollar donors are particularly supportive of Faith-based organizations, with 68 percent giving to these groups.

This is not surprising given that 74 percent of donors said the number one reason they give is because "the holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, and give to those who need it."

Gen X and Gen Y

Younger donors are especially charitable during the holidays. Holiday giving for 2010 aligns with Gen X and Y's giving style, and presents opportunities for reaching these typically harder-to-reach donor bases.

Convio's "Next Generation of American Donors" research (Summer 2010) showed that younger generations are more random in their giving, sensitive to emotional messages that pull at their heartstrings in the right place at the right time. 

These multiple factors may be why Gen Y and Gen X are actually MORE likely to give during the holiday season than older generations.  Gen X anticipates being particularly charitable, with average total gifts of $348 (higher than other generations). 

Survey background:

"Nonprofit organizations make up a significant part of the US economy," explained Austin, "We believe it is important to provide this kind of insight to the nonprofit community as well as ideas on how the Internet, email marketing, websites and multichannel marketing and promotions can help them engage supporters and raise money. With the current economic situation, nonprofits understanding the habits and behaviors of donors and potential donors is more important than ever in enabling nonprofits to better engage in relationships with constituents."

Edge Research surveyed a total of 1148 holiday donors, from October 20, 2010 to November 8, 2010 and were drawn from a census-representative population of adults. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3% in either direction at the 95 percent confidence interval. The margins of error for subsets of the population are higher and vary.

A report that highlights the results of the survey and insights for nonprofits is available at www.convio.com/holiday10

Convio is a provider of on-demand constituent engagement solutions that enable nonprofit organizations to more effectively raise funds, advocate for change and cultivate relationships with donors, activists, volunteers, alumni and other constituents.



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