Online giving will represent almost half of all UK giving by 2020, according to Charlie Wells, chief operating officer at JustGiving.
Speaking at the opening keynote session of the third day of Third Sector’s annual Fundraising Week conference in London this morning, Wells said he expected the proportion of giving that came through online channels to rise from 15 per cent in 2015 to almost 50 per cent by 2020.
"The reason we believe it will reach these levels is mobile," he said.
Wells said people in the UK spent an average of four hours a day on their mobile phones in 2015 – and that this was even longer for people with smartphones. He said that 85 per cent of this time was spent on apps.
"The massive rise in mobile we’re seeing and the amount of time people are spending on mobile will force giving online," he said.
Asked why he did not think online giving had become a bigger proportion of giving earlier, he said this was partly because the sector had been focusing on raising money from offline channels which previously yielded strong results.
"Part of the reason some of us got into trouble last year is that we tried to optimise our offline channels," he said. "We haven’t been forced to move online as quickly as the rest of the world."
But he said some charities were likely to start reducing their investment in such channels because of a lack of growth.
Another factor that has kept online giving levels low before now was the expensive infrastructure it could require, said Wells.
He said large companies such as Sainsburys could afford to set up substantial digital platforms, but charities had more pressing things to spend their money on.
He told Third Sector after the session that this no longer represented such an obstacle because rather than building their own infrastructure, charities could now partner with third-party technology providers such as Worldpay or online giving sites to facilitate payment or donations processes for them.