Donors who give to a charity directly though its website give on average more than double the amount given by those who donate on social networking sites, according to a study by the US fundraising agency TrueSense Marketing.
Speaking at Resource Alliance's Fundraising Online 2011 conference last week, Jeff Brooks, creative director of TrueSense Marketing, presented the findings of the study that looked at how people give online to charities in the US.
The Online Giving Study analysed data from the online giving processing company Network for Good, consisting of gifts made by 1.8 million people to more than 60,000 not-for-profit companies in the US from 2003 to 2009.
It found that when comparing giving through charity websites, social networking sites and giving portals over a three-year period, from 2007 to 2009, people who gave directly through the website gave more at the start of their giving cycle and more in total over the period.
By 2009, the cumulative average gift through a charity website was $257, through a portal, such as guidestar.org, it was $168 and via a social media site, such as Facebook, it was $123.
Brook said that, despite these findings, charities should not ignore portals and social media sites.
"If you're a large enough organisation you will be getting money through portals," he said. "And the same with Facebook and the other social networking sites. They tend to be younger donors – people that you have trouble finding because they don't give a lot."
But he said the findings demonstrated that charities should not use these places as their default online location for fundraising. He said he had seen a number of charities' websites that took you to giving portals when you clicked on donation links.
He said this might help charities avoid having to process donations themselves, but it might cost them money in terms of the amount they receive.