Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

Online giving is growing in popularity

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on January 4, 2010

(Source: Ventura County Star)By Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, Calif.
Dec. 31–With today forecast as the biggest day of the year for online giving, growing numbers of donors are beating the tax deadline while doing their bit for charity.

Contributors made 13.2 times more online gifts last Dec. 31 than the daily average for the rest of 2008, according to national figures for charities using software by Convio, a company in Austin, Texas.

The firm also reported the charities raised 22.5 times more money than they did on an average day.

“Americans are going more and more online with their lifestyle,” said Tad Druart, spokesman for Convio. “We see that carry over to nonprofits, particularly as nonprofits get more savvy.”

While the figures don’t cover every online gift made in the nation, the firm accounts for 7 to 8 percent of an estimated $10 billion given online. In Ventura County, nonprofit managers say the finding squares with the increase in donations they see today and all week long.

“We’re all procrastinators,” said Jeanne Benitez, development director at FOOD Share, the regional food bank in Oxnard.

Many still prefer checks

Although many older donors still prefer sending checks by mail or dropping them off in person, contributors in their 30s and 40s often favor online giving, officials say.

Not only is it quick and cheap, but contributors can print receipts to prove to the Internal Revenue Service that they really did give by 11:59 tonight, charity officials say.

“It’s easier for so many folks,” Benitez said. “It’s so immediate.”

Westlake Village businessman Kash Dadvand, 39, said online giving fits into his lifestyle.

“I’m a nerd at heart,” said the owner of Zumablue.com, a marketing and graphics firm.

“I spend 12 hours a day in front of a computer. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to donate a few dollars online than donate in person.”

Dadvand, a supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs around the area, recently put on his own private fundraiser on Facebook. He invited friends to contribute instead of giving him birthday presents, raising a few hundred dollars for the clubs in Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Still, many contributors don’t trust any purchase over the Net.

“I don’t order anything on the computer,” said retired nurse Willa De Lay, 92, of Oxnard, a regular contributor to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

“There’s been a lot of problems,” she said, adding that she’s concerned about viruses and identity theft.

“I don’t like my e-mail to get out to everybody, so I like to write checks,” De Lay said.

City-by-city figures

Linda le Brock, development director for the clubs, sees the advantage in both approaches. Contributors may see a direct-mail piece, then give when they get an e-mail solicitation later.

“There’s multiple touches that make it more effective,” she said.

Convio reports city-by-city figures for contributors giving to its clients, which include the American Diabetes Association, the American Red Cross, Easter Seals, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Humane Society of the United States.

Alexandria, Va., Cambridge, Mass., Minneapolis, Minn., Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., led the list of cities giving the most per capita online in 2008. In Ventura County, Thousand Oaks ranked in the top third, finishing 85th among 273 cities with populations over 100,000.

Among small cities, the highest finisher in the county was Camarillo, which ranked in the top fifth among cities of less than 100,000 based on the amount given online.

Charities find new donors

At about $10 billion, online giving accounts for only a fraction of the $300 billion given annually in the United States. Charity heads say direct mail and face-to-face meetings with contributors are still critical, but online fundraising brings in untapped money.

“What it’s really done is identified some new donors for us,” said Tim Blaylock, president and CEO of the Oxnard-area Boys & Girls Clubs.

It’s become so common that it’s the community standard, said Dena Jenson, vice president of the Ventura County Community Foundation.

“Having a significant Web presence and having the availability to accept donations online is no longer a boutique tool,” she said. “It’s standard practice.”

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To see more of the Ventura County Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.venturacountystar.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Ventura County Star, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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