Doing Good By Email: Channel Ranks With Social In Donor Popularity

Email is edged out by social media as the communications tool that most inspires charitable giving worldwide. But it depends on the age of the donors and how much they are willing to cough up, according to Trends in Global Giving, a study sponsored by Your Public Interest Registry and conducted by Nonprofit Tech for Good.

Micro donors — those who give $100 U.S. or less — are most inspired to give by social media (40%, versus 18% for email). So are small donors — the people who contribute from $100 to $1,000 — by a margin of 29% to 28%.

But a third each of mid-size donors ($1,001 to $10,000) and major donors ($10,000 or more) prefer email. 

In addition, 33% of baby boomers are inspired by email, and only 19% select social media. But social media is first among GenXers (33% versus 26% for email) and millennials (39% versus 22%).

Nonprofit Tech Research surveyed 6,057 donors in 119 countries. It found that overall, 29% prefer social media, and 27% email. Third, chosen by 18%, is websites. 



Only once does email come in worse than second as a medium for driving donations — in South America, where 41% prefer social media, 19% websites and 18% email.

And 69% worldwide prefer to be thanked for their contributions by email.

The study also found that 30% of male donors are motivated by email, versus 26% for social media. But females prefer social media, by 32% to 26%.

Worldwide, political conservatives prefer email over social media (28% to 26%). But that is reversed among moderates (30% versus 24%) and liberals (31% to 29%).

Preferences also vary by religion. Buddhists and Hindus like email, but Christian, Jewish and Muslim givers are driven more by social media. So are non-believers.

Channel choices also depend on the continent, in this way: 

  • Africa — social media
  • Asia — email
  • Australia — social media
  • Europe — social media
  • North America — email
  • South America — social media

Meanwhile, of donors who prefer social media, 56% are inspired by Facebook.

The study also found that:

  • 43% of donors prefer to give online with a debit or credit card 
  • 45% are enrolled in a monthly giving program
  • 14% gave on Giving Tuesday in 2017, but 40% did not. And 46% have never heard of Giving Tuesday
  • 41% have donated to crowdfunding campaigns to benefit individuals.
  • 33% give tribute gifts for family and friends 
  • 41% give following natural disasters
  • Only 20% are inspired to give by free-gift offers, with 68% citing the waste of money and 36% saying they don’t need or want the gift. Another 6% cite the environmental impact of the gift. 
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