A new research study by Google suggests that nonprofits might be waiting too long to start their year-end fundraising efforts. In 2012, the number of donation-related searches on the company’s site was 30 percent higher in September than it was in August.
“If nonprofits wait until Thanksgiving time to raise awareness, they’re missing out on all these people who are starting to search in September,” says Jessie End, who oversees the company’s advertising operations for nonprofit organizations.
Surprised by that finding, the company’s advertising unit commissioned a study to see what else it could learn about donors’ online-giving habits. Conducted by Millward Brown Digital, a market-research firm, the project included an online survey of 982 people and analysis of the online behavior for six months of 2 million people who had agreed to let the company track their activities online.
Three-quarters of donors began research they conducted on charities online, according to the survey.
Google will share the research at a meeting on Wednesday with its nonprofit clients and release the information more widely in the coming weeks.
Video a Powerful Tool
The study also found that video was a powerful tool to spark online gifts. Fifty-seven percent of survey participants said they had made a contribution after watching a charity’s online video.
The exploding popularity of smartphones and tablets also plays an increasing role in donors’ giving.
Forty percent of survey participants said they conduct research about charities on their mobile devices, and 25 percent said they make donations using smartphones and tablets.
Of the people who said they make donations through their mobile devices, 45 percent reported that they make their contributions using a browser, and 28 percent said they gave by text message. The rest of the donors reported using mobile apps, click-to-call features, and other mobile options.
Analysis of donors’ online activity showed that almost half of donors visited multiple nonprofit Web sites before making a donation. Thirty-nine percent visited two to four charity sites, and 8 percent visited five or more.
Says Ms. End: “It’s important to build your brand because nonprofit donors are, in fact, comparison shoppers.”