In today’s 24/7 digital world, we are connected to one another and the causes we support with the simple yet powerful click of a button.

Virtual donor engagement is a vital element of a nonprofit organization’s communication and fundraising strategy. From their websites to their social media presence, we continue to see that the digital landscape is transforming how organizations connect with, engage, and activate their audience.

Online Giving Is Soaring to New Heights

Last month, the Blackbaud Institute released its 2020 Charitable Giving Report, which highlights key giving data from 8,833 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. totaling $40.7 billion in fundraising revenue.

The data reflects giving during an unprecedented year in philanthropy, as organizations responded to a global pandemic, a widespread reckoning with racial and social injustice, and a polarized political environment.

The findings? 2020 signified tremendous growth in online giving.

  • In 2020, 12.9% of total fundraising came from online giving. This is the highest percentage in history for online giving and marks an important milestone in philanthropy.[1]
  • Online giving grew by 20.7% compared to 2019. Taking a more longitudinal three-year view of fundraising from the same organizations revealed a whopping 32.4% increase in online giving.[2]

Donating via Mobile Device Is Growing in Popularity

In addition to measuring online giving, the Blackbaud Institute measured the growth in online donations made on mobile devices. In 2020, an estimated 28% of online donations were made using mobile devices. This figure has grown steadily since 2014, when giving by a mobile device comprised just 9% of online donations.[3]

Smaller Gifts Collectively Have a Transformative Impact

A strong culture of philanthropy has always been a part of the fabric of American society and 2020 was no exception. The average online donation amount was just $177—a testament to the age-old saying that every gift matters and every gift makes a difference.[4] With the simple yet powerful click of a button, donors can support their favorite charities at a level that is meaningful to them, and collectively, can have a transformative social impact.

How to Get Online Donations at Your Organization

2020 showed the vital role that online engagement and giving play in philanthropy. As the digital landscape continues to transform the social impact sector, organizations must be equipped with the tools and technology to keep pace with this channel of choice for donors.

Below are three tips to maximize your digital giving toolkit:

  1. Click Here to Donate. Your “DONATE” button should stand out prominently on your website and digital platform. This should be the first thing donors see when they visit your homepage. The donate button offers a clear and compelling way for people to act now. Make it big, bold, and bright. Once donors click to donate, it should be as easy and seamless as possible for them to make a gift online. Your gift processing form should be clear and simple to navigate on both a computer and mobile device.
  2. Consistent Messaging. Ensure consistent communication across your platforms. Your digital presence must reflect a cohesive organizational brand and message that resonates with supporters, yet it should also be tailored to each platform and the distinct audience you seek to engage. What are you trying to communicate, and how will your call to action look differently on a computer versus a mobile device?
  3. Streamline Operational Activity. Mobile-friendly websites, social media, and online donation forms should work together seamlessly to maximize a donor’s giving experience. Make sure you have the infrastructure and processes in place to manage a high volume of mobile transactions and regularly test your platforms to ensure optimization.

As we look to a future that will likely be even more digitally connected than the present, online giving will continue to grow as the vehicle of choice for donors. Let’s harness its power to elevate philanthropy and drive social change.


[1] The Blackbaud Institute, Charitable Giving Report, 2020,

[2] The Blackbaud Institute, Charitable Giving Report, 2020,

[3] The Blackbaud Institute, Charitable Giving Report, 2020,

[4] The Blackbaud Institute, Charitable Giving Report, 2020,

About the Author

Elizabeth Abel is a Corporate Vice President at CCS Fundraising, a leading strategic consulting and fundraising management firm to nonprofit organizations worldwide. In this role, she partners with executive leadership to plan for and implement transformational fundraising campaigns that position organizations to elevate philanthropy, plan strategically for their futures, and maximize their social impact. She is also an Instructor at the School of Social Policy and Practice at The University of Pennsylvania.