Nonprofit fundraising, marketing and public relations organization Dunham+Company recently found donors aged 40 to 59 were the most likely to submit their contributions via a charity's website. The rate of older donors sending online payments has steadily increased  for half a decade.

"It's easy for organizations to have in mind a 20- or 30-year-old when they think of their online donors, but in fact it is the aging donor that is now the most likely to give online," Dunham+Company CEO and President Rick Dunham said. "And the fact that donors 60 and older are as likely now to give online as donors under 40 means charitable organizations must shift their thinking about who is giving through their website." 

In 2010, only 47 percent of older donors made a payment online. That number rose to 67 percent in 2015. At the same time, the rate of younger donors contributing online has dropped from 60 percent in 2014 to 54 percent in 2015. Nineteen percent of donors age 66 and older gave online in 2015 after receiving a letter through the mail. Comparatively, only 8 percent of those under 40 did the same.

However, Dunham+Company said younger donors still prevail in the world of social media. Such websites encouraged 34 percent of contributors under 40 to donate to a nonprofit. Still, Dunham clarified donations through social media are a result of individual networking and not the presence of nonprofits on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. People increased their contributions after suggestions from friends and followers, not requests from charities. Dunham said social media works best as a tool to increase engagement rather than raise donations.

Increasing online contributions
While direct solicitation through social media may not work, there are numerous ways charities can increase their online donations. A nonprofit's online presence starts with its website, so make sure yours is easy to use. The site should be designed with clear text and high-quality images. Nonprofit Hub suggested using a minimal color scheme and simple navigation. The site also said nonprofits should make it clear where online users can go to make electronic payments.

npENGAGE also stressed the importance of clarity, stating a simple page works better than one full of banner ads and complex menus. Submission forms should be simple and easy to use with every field clearly labeled. Also, nonprofits should only request the information they need. Asking for additional data can make potential donors wary of your intent, and no one enjoys filling out a long, cumbersome online form.

Conventional donation methods
There's no denying the Internet has made every aspect of payment processing easier, even the act of donating. However, that doesn't mean charities should abandon conventional payment methods. The Dunham+Company study showed 36 percent of donors solicited through the postal system still mail their contributions. Thus, it's important for nonprofits to continue to accept traditional donation methods such as checks and debit cards. By accepting more payment methods, charities are able to accommodate all types of donors.

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