For the week ending Dec. 18, 2004, the number of visits to charity and humanitarian sites dropped 6 percent compared to the week before Christmas last year, Hitwise says. Similarly, monthly traffic to charitable sites fell 15 percent this November versus November 2003.
"Visitor levels to charity and humanitarian sites peaked in November 2003, but most have been on the decline ever since," said Bill Tancer, vice president of research, Hitwise.
But, despite Hitwise's report of a traffic decline, others have said that online charitable donations are on the rise this year. "Going into 2004, we've seen more than a two-fold increase in online donations versus last year," said Dr. Harry Gruber, president and CEO Kintera, Inc, a marketing services provider for nonprofit organizations. He added, "individual donations have grown slightly, but the real difference is in the number of donors." According to a Kintera spokesperson, the company generated $87.2 million in online donations for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2004.
Tancer also noted that charities tend to have distinct demographic characteristics; he said charity and humanitarian publishers should place greater emphasis on reaching their target market with their online campaigns.
According to the Hitwise data, visitors to humanitarian sites tend to be older, less affluent, and female. Internet households earning more than $150,000 per year were 42 percent less likely to visit humanitarian sites than the average online consumer, while those earning less than $30,000 a year were 11 percent more likely to visit charity and non-profit sites than average consumers.
For the four weeks ending Dec. 11, Hitwise data shows that upper-middle class urbanites with no children are 36 percent more likely to visit humanitarian sites than the average online consumer. Visitors from isolated rural villages with modest incomes, lower education levels, and blue collar jobs were 27 percent less likely to visit humanitarian sites than average.
Separately, Hitwise is reporting that holiday traffic to shopping and classifieds sites rose 27 percent more for the week ending Dec. 18, compared to the week before Christmas last year--accounting for 9.54 percent of all Internet traffic.