Are we still debating the role that digital and technology plays in the future of fundraising?

Almost every other week a new survey comes out with yet another statistic on how offline giving supersedes that of gifts made online. And with each survey the same question arises – Are we still debating the role that digital and technology plays in the future of fundraising?

It’s an interesting conversation that revolves around the world of offline giving. For example, the impersonal nature of online fundraising. Or the lack of human interaction. And even, the missed opportunity to make a ‘real’ connection with potential donors.

That argument may have held-up in the late 90’s, when the Internet had only been around for a few years. Today, in a globally connected society that is educated in the use of social media, texting, networking platforms, email, and emoticon communication, it’s difficult to believe that the offline-online debate still continues.

Let’s take #givingtuesday as just one success story of online fundraising. In 2014, The Non-Profit Times estimated $47 million in contributions, based on surveys of five companies that processed online donations. In some cases, online donations grew 36% year on year. As Steve Maclauglin, Director of product management at Blackbaud (one of the companies surveyed) said: The modern donor is becoming a mobile donor. As usual, it will be the donors who will force non-profits to embrace mobile.

If these statistics don’t dispel any concerns about eliminating human interaction in the giving process, I don’t know what will.

Network for giving shows online giving growing 9% last year. Durham & Company show that nearly two thirds of non-profits have donation pages buried 3 clicks or more into their website. 84% of non-profits haven’t optimized their website donation pages for smartphone or tablets.

Online fundraising shouldn’t be looked at in isolation. Instead of parameters, we should be looking at a bigger picture – an overall approach to connecting with your donors.

As Mr Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday said: Online communities can be places teeming with passion and energy, and fundraisers need to carve out time now to explore them, understand their dynamics, and test how to build them.

How are we going to break through the 2% GDP giving rate? A wise man once said that doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Let’s try something new. Let’s give online fundraising the attention it deserves. Or at least approach it with the same enthusiasm as we would traditional donations from people who want to be part of making a positive difference.