publication date: Oct 17, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
get digital, says Steve Levy
of Ipsos Reid
By "get," he means both "understand" and "implement." And he proved his point
, a Toronto event
in September dedicated to social and mobile fundraising strategies.
Did you know, for example, that almost a third of Canadian
donors now give online? Or that Canada is one of the most connected nations in
the world, with Internet access for 80% of its population and wireless access
These statistics come from Charitable Giving - the Evolution of the Canadian Charitable Landscape
a survey report Ipsos has just released that compares responses of 840 adult
Canadians in August 2011 to the answers of 1,055 (2009) and 1,823 (2008) in
You might expect the spotlight to focus on donors' online
behaviour, given the emphasis of the Artez conference. But even the answers to
questions that seemed unconnected with technology, suggest a trend that will
grow more powerful each year.
Consider these other Ipsos findings about Canadian donors'
preferences. The numbers come from Ipsos; the parenthetical comments are this
Forty-seven percent of donors participated in a
run, walk or ride, and 69% sponsored someone in a fundraising event, the top giving
channel among respondents. (Software enabling participants to raise funds
online through their networks is becoming commonplace.)
Thirty-one percent of donors give online, well
behind giving in person or by mail, but twice the proportion who respond to
telephone canvassers. (Even as it becomes harder and harder to speak to someone
in person, online appeals and channels are available to donors 24/7.)
The most common reason that donors give (22%) is
that someone asked them personally. (Individuals who passionately support a
cause can personally ask many more people to give, either through sponsoring
them in a 'thon or making a direct donation. Of course, this only applies to
demographics that consider electronic contact to be "personal.")
- Trust in the online environment is growing -
just 14% told researchers they "didn't feel safe" or "didn't trust the
Internet" in 2011, compared to 22% in 2009.
An audience member identified the fly in the digital
ointment. Retention rates for online donors, he pointed out, are below the
retention rates of donors acquired through any other channel. Levy readily
acknowledged that we still have much to learn about developing electronic donor
Who are the donors of
While the surge in online giving moves us towards new
channels and strategies, the fundamentals remain - scan the environment and
know your donors. The Ipsos survey offers plenty of guidance on these points as
Some things haven't changed. More women than men give
(74%/64%). Those with more education are more likely to give (84% of
post-secondary graduates, 71% of those with high school or less). Propensity to
give rises with income (54% of those earning $50K or less, 82% over $75K), and
giving rises with age (55% in the 18-34 age group, 78% of those 55 and over) -
these last statistics probably inter-related.
Canada's top seven fundraising events are all long-standing,
national events now powered by electronic fundraising, personal Web pages and
all the trappings of the digital world: the Cancer Society Relay for Life, the
Terry Fox Run, the MS Society Walk, the Ride for Heart, the Weekend to End
Breast Cancer, Bowl for Kids Sake (benefitting Big Brothers/Big Sisters) and
the Run for the Cure.
Disaster giving up,
disease donations down
Canadians' cause preferences have shifted in the past two
years, perhaps reflecting a spike in giving to the Haiti earthquake. Giving to
disaster relief rose 18%, and giving to food banks (another kind of disaster
relief) climbed 6%. Giving to other essential causes declined, with support for
disease charities and poverty-related issues (except food banks) both down 7%.
Mixed news for the
The brightest light of the Ipsos report is the revelation
that participation in giving has rebounded almost to the pre-recession level.
The August 2008 Ipsos survey found that 71% of Canadians supported charitable
causes; the number declined to 65% in 2009 but climbed to 69% in 2011. That
rebound, though, is largely limited to Ontario and Quebec.
Levy pointed out some serious concerns about the future.
Canada's economic outlook for 2012 is not positive, and public sentiment is
less optimistic. More Canadians are donating, but their gifts are smaller and
they're supporting more charities. Nevertheless, he says, the "heavy donor"
segment still exists - ready to give, to be engaged as volunteers, and to
support for the long term once they become engaged.
For more information,
contact Steve Levy.