Published in Partnership with Forbes.com
- Donations are going mobile.
- Microdonations are unlocking new funding streams.
- Celebrities are catalyzing donors.
- It’s all about timing.
What do a child in India, an entrepreneur in East Africa, and a teacher in the United States all have in common? They benefit every day when other people around the world use their mobile phones to donate to nonprofit organizations and philanthropic causes.
Today, one in three people in the U.S. use their mobile device as their primary tool to access the internet, rather than a laptop or desktop computer. Whether for shopping or paying, mobile phones have become the new wallet, replacing checks and plastics as the easier, faster and more portable way to connect and transact. And the same holds true for charitable giving. The old models of fundraising are rapidly giving way to a new paradigm for donor engagement with cell phones and other mobile devices at the core of how people connect with their favorite causes.
We’re seeing this most clearly through PayPal. Globally, the total value of mobile donations using PayPal in December 2012 was 242 percent larger than in December 2011. And on Giving Tuesday alone, the total value of mobile donations through PayPal increased by 228 percent from 2011 to 2012. The rise of mobile is a trend no one in any industry can ignore, let alone in the philanthropic space.
But, the rise of mobile giving is just the tipping point of the philanthropic trends we’re seeing across our portfolio. Last year alone, PayPal processed over $3.6 billion in donations for charities globally, up 22% from the year before. And donations made through eBay Giving Works, our suite of charitable giving programs that enable people to support their favorite nonprofit while buying a selling through eBay.com, increased 14% to $72 million. With all of this activity and data across our portfolio of businesses, we’re gaining collecting valuable data about the power and direction of philanthropy. And we think the insight it provides – like the rise of mobile giving – can help to create even greater impact.
Donations go mobile
In 2012, we saw an increased number of nonprofit organizations harness the benefits of new technologies to break down traditional barriers and lower the costs of solicitation and donation. In addition to the vast increase of day-to-day mobile donations on our platforms, mobile engagement during natural disasters held steady as well. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations used PayPal to collectively raise more than $7.2 million, with almost $900,000 donated via mobile alone. Further, causes are increasingly looking to their mobile devices to be able to process payments of all types at their offline events. Children’s Miracle Network, for example, took advantage of PayPal Here to capture $10,000 in donations by swiping credit cards during a private golf tournament last year. The next philanthropic horizon of mobile is here now. In 2013 and beyond, we predict more nonprofit organizations and fundraising professionals will adopt a mobile mindset and engage in mobile-enabled fundraising to tap into a new, growing donor pool. And we’re continuing to innovate our tools to facilitate the uptake of mobile fundraising – in fact, we just beta-launched the PayPal donate button for mobile and it will be fully rolled-out soon.
Micro donations unlock new funding streams
New technologies and payment systems have made it possible for nonprofits to benefit from micro donations that had previously been too costly to process. In fact, in 2012 micro donations outpaced their macro counterparts. According to PayPal data, the average donation size globally decreased by $0.71 last year, while the number of global donations to nonprofits increased by 20 percent — a change illustrative of the fact that even as macroeconomic factors continue to place downward pressure on the ability of people to give, the importance of being able to process micro donations is growing. These advancements have resulted in innovative new ways to engage people at scale and opened up a whole new world of opportunity for nonprofits to benefit. For example, in 2012 we saw more than 3.6 million donations made through eBay.com’s Give@Checkout functionality; of those, nearly 99% were for amounts of $5 or less. We’re witnessing how micro donations at scale can add up to a lot of good – and in the coming years, we believe that the tremendous growth of micro (coupled with the rise of mobile) will spur altogether new forms of giving that enable people to support their favorite nonprofit anytime, anywhere through small, but frequent gifts.
Celebrities catalyze donors
In the era of reality TV, social media fluency and the ever-growing list of figure heads, celebrities have more power than ever before to mobilize and engage large masses of people. And the same principles apply for fundraising. In 2012, star personalities continued to be the backbone of strong fundraising campaigns. Whether it was the Robin Hood Foundation’s 12-12-12 A-list concert, which raised a total of $50 million for more than 160 charities, or lunch with Warren Buffett, which raised $3.4 million on eBay.com for the Glide Foundation, the power of celebrity is clear. As the pool of cause-conscious celebrities grows, the opportunity for nonprofits to capitalize on this trend has never been greater.
It’s all about timing
Sometimes finding the proper time to encourage donations can be just as important as the method of requesting. Through our 2012 data, there was a distinct trend on days and times that people tended to give the most. On a quarter-by-quarter basis on PayPal, Fridays and Mondays, particularly during the mornings, were the most popular days and times for giving. In the year ahead, we anticipate that nonprofits will begin to cater their fundraising campaigns and donation communication efforts to the beginning and end of the week, rather than the middle, to capitalize on the times when people are feeling most generous.
In our technologically-based society, ensuring that the nonprofit organizations and causes we support are prepared for and ready to capitalize on several philanthropic trends, including the rise of mobile giving is critical. As a global community, we have the tools to enable greater opportunities, now we have to act to create a better world.
To learn more about the power of our platforms and capabilities to connect people with ways to help, click here.