Canadians increasingly want to donate online and with mobile devices as donor dollar competition increases

Toronto’s Artez Interactive 2011 conference theme was “unconventional” as the conference underlined a shift from traditional charitable giving to online and mobile donating. The CEO of Artez, James Appleyard, says that non-profit marketing in the digital space has become about “friendship powered fundraising”.

That’s because people are one hundred times more likely to donate when asked by a friend- under 1% of Canadians donated via direct mail whereas 80% donated when asked in an email by a friend on one occasion.

Steve Levy, the President of Ispos Reid for the East presented the Evolution of the Canadian Charitable Landscape and said that 69% of Canadians donated in 2011, up from 65% in 2009, but down from 71% in 2008, explained by rocky economic times.

The interest in donating online has increased from 29% to 37% from 2009 to 2011, while security concerns decreased from 18% to 17% and more people now trust the internet as that number decreased from 22% to 14%.

Interestingly enough Canadians donate more often online, increasing from 22% to 27% in the two years between 2009 and 2011 but the amount of money given in comparison to offline means has stayed the same.

Canadians donated using social media 13% of the time, e-mail 30% of the time and 57% still did so in person.

Medical and disease related charities saw some of the steepest declines in charitable giving from 2009 to 2011 at 7% as people donated for disaster relief which is up by 18%. As there is a broad range of non-profit organizations to donate to the bigger players are enduring much more competition than ever before, and Canadians only support three charities on average.

Canadians are also supporting local causes less- as local community contribution fell from 71% to 61% from 2009 to 2011. More Canadians are giving to nationwide causes- which is up 5% in the two year period from 41% to 46%, and international causes have risen 10% from 20% to 30%.

Appleyard even said that 40% of Canadians 18-34 want to make a donation via mobile PayPal and that unconventional donating in the form of mobility like smartphones and tablets is certainly on the rise.

Much of the conference covered new marketing trends beyond apps like QR Codes and augmented reality. Blue State Digital’s Social Media Director Ryan Davis said that gamification, augmented reality, responsive web design and geosocial networking sites like Blendr were four trends to watch out for in the coming months. That comes on the heels of metaio, which is largely regarded as the world’s most advanced augmented reality company internationally, releasing a free software development kit and augmented reality creator application for tech enthusiasts to try out in the coming weeks. As for those mobile donation forms- the advice is to keep them clean and's way less expensive than building an app.

Further, Sean Moffitt, who co-authored WikiBrands said that non-profits were 49% strongly optimistic about social media, while 36% were somewhat optimistic. That should come as no surprise as 70% of Canadians use social media, and half visit every day, while Canadians are using social media 32% more than they were last year.

Ipsos Reid said that 86% of Canadians now have Facebook, 19% have Twitter, and 14% have LinkedIn. But non-profits were most satisfied with Twitter at 57%, followed by Facebook at 50% and email at 49%. Still, only 1.5% of content ever gets retweeted, but people are three times more likely to click on a link on Twitter than any other place on the web!

Not surprisingly, the biggest hurdles facing non-profits were budgets at 56%, followed by tech skills at 33%, organization adoption issues at 21% and differentiation to produce content at 20%.

Moffitt said that non-profits generally run into some hurdles when they outsource their social media/PR/marketing where 39% said there was no strategy focus, 33% didn’t listen, 32% didn’t understand the difference between content quantity and quality, measurement was an issue at 23% and member focus wants another issue at 21%.

As for creating word of mouth buzz about a non-profit, Moffitt said an audience was 100% important, 80% the idea concept, 60% a great organization, 40% the customer member experience, and the quality and quantity of content was 20%.

David J. Neff continued the conference with a keynote on the future of non-profits saying that if you haven’t gotten into the social and mobile space, you need to as donor attitudes are continuing to shift and there are some big declines across the board when it comes to major non-profit brands.

Neff said that non-profits also need to sort out their management structure for there doesn’t need to be three vice presidents of the same position, and there needs to be an opportunity for people to rise up in the organization.

His new book, which he co-authored, The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age opens up with an Issac Asimov quote: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be”.

Neff continues in the book: “And for the nonprofit world, truer words have not ever been spoken. Asimov had his eyes on society as a whole and his observation was that I was in a perpetual state of change, ever evolving and growing in complexity”.

Yes, donation habits will continue to change, but by how much in the next five years? That remains to be seen. After all, Moffitt did say that we would be laughing in five years about the digital donation tools we had to get by on today- if you can imagine what the online landscape might look like five years from now. 

I think we can at least say that online donating is reaching a tipping point, and mobile will eventually too. 

Artez Interactive
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Artez Interactive is a leading provider of online fundraising solutions for non-profit organizations. Since 1999, the company has assisted non profits in successfully creating, managing and executing a full range of online fundraising campaigns. The flexible and easy-to-use Artez software solutions make it possible for charity fundraisers to raise more money in more ways for their causes than... more

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Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe focuses on marketing, mobile, major technology players, entertainment, and new media. Dan has a dozen years of online experience that dates back to the turn of the millennium where he dominated a now non-existent online RPG game for a couple of years at the age of 15. He would eventually become a Toronto Blue Jays blogger who earned his way into Toronto's CP24 studios six years... more

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