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Online Donor Engagement: What We Learned from Our Google Survey

Did you know that 31% of people who gave online did it because their friends asked them to donate? And that men aged 25-34 are more likely to donate through a mobile device than women of the same age? Did you know that people who make donations online are more than likely to donate to 2-4 charities rather than just one? 

We gleaned this information and much more while conducting our first Google Survey on nonprofit online donor engagement. We set out to learn - and share - more about online giving habits in anticipation of the year-end giving season and boy, did we ever!

But first, a few helpful tips on Google Survey before we move forward. We know we aren’t the only ones out there looking for nifty, new survey tools. So if you haven’t experimented with Google Survey before, then now might be a good time to give it a try. 

Here are the basics: Any person or organization can conduct a Google survey. And by that I mean, if you are willing to pay, you can put a survey together and send it into the Googleverse. You can also be a survey TAKER. Yep, and actually earn Google Play Store credit* (more on how to do that at the end). One more thing to remember: the shorter the survey, the better. Meaning, it will be cheaper AND more importantly, respondents will be more likely to complete it. Remember: No one likes to fill out a seemingly endless survey. 

Now, onto the results!

In our survey entitled “Online Donor Engagement” we asked 4 simple questions, the first being a qualifier (or screening question). This question helped filter respondents; those who were screened out, were not asked any further questions. Our weighted survey responses are shown below. 

QUESTION #1: Have you donated to a nonprofit online in the last year?

Survey says:

  • No (75.8%); 
  • Yes, within last 3 - 6 months (14.1%), and; 
  • Yes, within last 7 -12 months (10.1%)

This question had 4,411 responses. However, out of that total, only 518 people were screened through based on their giving history. That final group was 56% male and 43% female. 

Online Engagement Survey 1

An Aside: The data that Google provides (true to form) is chock full of deeper insights, weighted results (if possible), and a slew of metrics (obv!) to help interpret the results - from gender breakdown and household income, to age, geography - including urban, suburban, and rural - marital status, response time, hour of the day and day of the week the survey was taken. 

QUESTION #2: What prompted you to make your most recent donation online?

Survey says:

  • Friend asked (31.5%); 
  • Saw a story online (17.8%); 
  • Received an email from the nonprofit (16%); 
  • Got something in the mail (13.5%); 
  • Saw a story on TV, read something in the paper or heard about it on the radio (12.2%), or; 
  • Always do (9.1%)

For this question, Google added this message in our data: Confidence in winner. If this question ran again, the winning answer would be the same 95% of the time. Did you get that? An online donation is as simple as a friend asking another friend to donate. (A ringing endorsement for true peer-to-peer fundraising!) Did you hear that #givingtuesday peeps? Your cause wins big when you encourage your supporters to ask their friends.

Online Engagement Survey 5


QUESTION #3: How many nonprofits did you donate to online last year?

Survey says:

  • One organization (33.8%); 
  • 2-4 (49.3%); 
  • 5-7 (8.1%); 
  • 8 or more (8.8%)

From this question, one of the most interesting Google insights was that those living in suburban areas were more apt to donate to a single charity (39.5%) when compared to their urban counterparts.

Online Engagement Survey 3

QUESTION #4: How likely are you (on a scale of 1-5 to make an online donation through a mobile device - i.e. phone, tablet, etc.?

Survey says:

  • 1 - Never! (34.6%)
  • 2 (19.4%)
  • 3 (21.6%)
  • 4 (13.6%)
  • 5 - Do it all the time. (10.7%)

Out of those that responded “I do it all the time”, most were male and age 65 or older. And those that made a donation online, did it in the last 3-6 months of the survey.

Apologies if your head is swimming. We sort of felt the same way - in the best sense, of course. So, what were the outcomes? The simple answer is, not what we thought. With Google’s vast demographic reach this was a great social science experiment and, one where we had no control over our focus group. We thought - as you probably did - that most people who would have responded to the survey are aged 25-44, right? Think about it. This age group(s) is constantly connected. Turns out, our largest group of respondents are 45-64. And, they were the group that actually does (did) donate online.

Our takeaway: maybe, just maybe, you might want to reconsider how you target when planning your year-end campaigns. Perhaps we aren’t giving the 65+ crowd enough credit for being online - and more, donating online. They DID donate more online in the last 6 months than the 18-24 year-olds.

So, where will we take our Google Survey experience from here? Well, we’ve just completed our second survey specifically focused on year-end giving and plan to write more posts in the upcoming weeks to let you in what we’ve learned. Stay tuned!
*And as for the question: how can I participate in these Googe surveys? We’ll let Google do the talking:

Answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credits with Google Opinion Rewards, an app created by Google Consumer Surveys. Download the app and answer basic questions about yourself. We'll then send you surveys around once a week, although it may be more or less frequent. You'll get a notification on your phone when a short and relevant survey is ready for you, and can receive up to $1.00 in Play credits for completing it. Questions can range from, "Which logo is best?" and "Which promotion is most compelling?" to "When do you plan on traveling next?"

Topics: Fundraising