We like Katya Andresen a lot, and it’s not only because she’s willing to link to our weirdest and most controversial posts. Mainly it’s because she’s one of the few bloggers in philanthropy–either religious or secular–who writes regularly about philanthropy from the perspective of the personal transformation of the philanthropist. The whole discipline is so caught up these days in its desire to sniff out the maximum social impact for the minimum charitable investment–social pygmalionism at bargain basement prices–that it’s always encouraging to see Katya’s posts that talk about who we are becoming as we give.
That’s why we are excited with Katya for the release of the landmark Network for Good Study today. The study analyzes the $381 million given through the Network for Good platform to 66,000 charities over the past seven years. It also shows just how far we have to go before Transformational Giving-oriented development practices become the de facto standard online.
Interestingly, only about 5% of the giving through the Network for Good platform is to religious causes. Puzzling, as I’ve always felt this was one of the better giving options available to religious nonprofits.
Still, even though we’re underrepresented on the NFG platform, the study is an important bellwether for measuring the institutionalization of Transformational Giving (TG) practices online.
Interesting to see, for example, that:
- At present, your own website is a far more potent portal for giving than donations made through the social network engines. We ought to be committed to upending this before the next seven year study, should the Lord tarry. My gut tells me this results from our failure to coach our champions to be credible owners for the cause in their sphere of influence. At best, we still treat them as (and train them to be) referral agents for us, with our nonprofits (and their associated sites) being the credible place to go to give and get involved. Much work for us to do here.
- 22% of annual online giving happens in the last 48 hours of the year. That’s a staggering total, not to mention a stinging indictment of traditional transactional fundraising’s (ttf’s) inability to grow people in a lifestyle of philanthropy. I suspect that Christian orgs are not as superior to our secular counterparts on this count as we’d like to believe.
- Treating an online giving page like an online giving page–rather than (at very minimum) a customized, branded giving experience or (better yet) a means of promoting further involvement–is never a good development strategy, whether you’re all about TG or you’re as ttf as they come. Nothing says “I really only want your money” quite like a generic giving page on your website.
The study is a quick read and a helpful benchmark showing us we still have megadistances to traverse when it comes to institutionalizing TG through our online presences. Kudos to Katya for the reality check!
Thanks Eric for the thoughtful reflections on the study – I knew you’d have a unique perspective. I think you’re right, it shows we have a long ways to go in truly tapping the online medium’s potential to create deeper relationships with our supporters. We can and must do better!
Y’all did a great job on the study, Katya–you’ve given us a renewed “head of steam” to make progress in the area of philanthropy as personal transformation, with online tools as an important set of train tracks to assist in the process. I hope more nonprofits check out NFG as a giving platform–and I hope your blog picks up even more readers in 2011. You = best!