How big was giving when the first online donation was made?

9 Oct


In a galaxy far, far away……

I’ve always wanted to start a blog this way. I apologize for my indulgence.

With that out of my system I do have a story to share.

Back in the day, we’ll call it 1996, giving online was pretty much the proverbial acorn. Small, and not showing the promise of what was to be the might oak of today; the only giving channel that’s growing.

When we began to build RAZ Mobile, we sought a perspective on the growth of online giving. We asked ourselves, “In the first year of online giving, how much was raised?”

Finding stats that old is tough but I did find one in an article where the source was not quoted. The author of the article stated that in 1996 the total of online giving for the entire nonprofit sector online was $250,000.

That’s a respectable number but remember how few people were online. Remember how web experiences could vary widely in quality and how e-commerce was still talked about as something that would never catch on.

Framed in that environment, $250,000 looks like a win for the sector and a tiny suggestion of what was to come.

Fast forward to today and the PC industry is “hemorrhaging” to use the description of one article reporting on dismal PC sales. Tablets and smartphones are displacing the PC as the first device internet users go to access the internet.

Mary Meeker at KPCB tells us the mobile MBs are growing at a rapid rate and it’s not just swapping PC experiences on the internet for mobile experiences. Each day the web plays more of a role in our lives than many of us would care to admit. This isn’t cannibalization. It’s the maturation of humans using their connectivity to other humans and vast troves of information. Meeker says by the end of 2015 33% of all MBs will be mobile and then she predicts the pace to accelerate.

So does it follow that giving via a smartphone with internet access will start equally small, like 1996 and that it will grow as PC online giving has into approximately 15% of a $200B+ business as it stands today?

Of course it will. However, the growth will be more rapid and equally transformative for nonprofits.

You see, back in 1996 we never gave over the internet. We had to learn it.

Back in 1996, the internet sat on my desk. Now it’s in my hand… all times it seems and never, ever far from reach.

We have large and small customers raising large amounts and small amounts because we make it easy to give on a mobile phone with pages that are fast-to-load and easy to navigate. We let donors have the option to store their information securely so they never have to fill out a form to give for ANY nonprofit on our platform. For those that do so, their donations are made in the impulse and done in 20 seconds or less.

1996 was not that long ago and online giving has had an immense impact on giving and our world. It’s saved nonprofits in the United States from the troubles of the US Postal Service. It’s reduced the carbon footprint of what still is today, a bit too heavy.

Today, without hesitation, I will tell you that giving via smartphones connected to the web will be bigger than you can imagine. I dare say no one would have said that $250,000 in year one would be multi-billions of dollars less than two decades later.

The mobile web is growing fast and the need to add real, fully-optimized mobile fundraising and engagement to your capabilities has arrived.

One might say that this is 1996 all over again. But this time the rate of growth will be far, far bigger than you can imagine.

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