Survey: How "Citizen philanthropists" (like you?) have changed disaster relief

BlogHer Original Post

I'm finally back home after an extended business trip that began with the Blogher 2006 conference.  I was catching up on my blog reading, including Britt Bravo's Tips for Disaster Relief Bloggers from the Blogher 2006 Conference - Community Assistance Panel when I got an email from Katya Andresen (author of Robin Hood Marketing) and Vice President, Marketing for Network for Good about a new study entitled "Impulse on the Internet: How Crisis Compels Donors to Give Online." 

The study focuses on the recent, large-scale humanitarian emergencies that prompted a huge number and amount of online donations.  It looked at why donors give online, how donors give online, their giving behaviors and implications for nonprofits seeking to raise money online. 

This study is based on analysis of $24.5 million in charitable giving online through Network for Good in response to three major crises: the December 2004 tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the Pakistan earthquake of October 2005.

· Tsunami relief: 82,000 donations totaling $11 million for 124 charities
· Katrina relief: 107,000 donations totaling $13 million for 344 charities
· Pakistan relief: 3,100 donations totaling $500,000 for 75 charities

There were several findings that particularly interested me as I've begun to process what I heard in the Community Assistance Panel at blogher:

Finding #6: The Internet has created a new type of donor: the citizen philanthropist.

"While fundraising was once the domain of nonprofits and their corporate partners, with each crisis, Network for Good has seen an increasing number of people creating links to their favorite charities to fundraise on their behalf. Hundreds of blogs, individual web sites and small business web sites – and a few celebrities - have linked to Network for Good at times of crisis. Dozens of individuals set up their own web sites in the wake of Katrina to match people willing to provide housing with victims. The result was a thriving, if somewhat fragmented, network of people mobilizing resources."

I wonder what would happen if Grace's idea from  Community Assistance Panel was a reality?  What would be the result if we could  mobilize the blogher network?

Finding #7: Increased fraud and media coverage of nefarious fundraisers increased donor skepticism.

Privacy and security was consistently the #1 clicked on FAQ throughout Network for Good’s site during crisis, an indication that fraud is a chief concern of donors. In response to such concerns, organizations like the American Red Cross issued lists of official donation processing vendors, including Network for Good.

The issue of whether to raise money via their blogs was also discussed during the Blogher Community Assistance Panel.   Both Grace Davis and Dina Mehta steered away from using donation buttons on their sites because of the increased fraud issue.

The study goes on to suggest some key lessons for nonprofits:

- Charities need to set up online donation processing before a crisis, because the window of opportunity is so narrow it leaves little time to do so once disaster has struck.
· Charities should consider offering recurring giving as an option in the donation check-out and emphasize it with donors.
· Impulsive givers are in a hurry; they want to help quickly, so text-heavy appeals and dense web sites are not advisable. Leave the details to thank you notes, when nonprofits can expound on the impact of donor gifts.
· If a charity is not a big brand or relatively small, it should be sure to seek listings on sites such as Network for Good since donors value choice yet may not know how to find lesser known relief agencies.