By the time you finish reading this report, over 50,000 people will have landed on a GoFundMe social fundraising page. The social fundraising data for nonprofits in this report is a first-of-its-kind by GoFundMe. Through this research project, we seek to use our vast amount of data tracked through fundraisers, donations, and social sharing to help nonprofits better understand and use social fundraising.
Our analysis of the data has made it possible to provide rich and actionable insights about social fundraising to the modern nonprofit organization. The report is broken up into three main areas, selected as the most helpful for nonprofits that are trying to solve some of their challenges.
Key findings in each area
Social fundraising and device trends
There’s an ever-accelerating move of fundraising to mobile devices. GoFundMe donors are primarily and increasingly engaging and donating on mobile devices. Mobile devices make up over 79% of the traffic and 62% of the donations to fundraisers.
Social fundraising donor insights
Strong similarities exist between peer-to-peer donors and nonprofit social donors. For example, women donate more often to GoFundMe peer-to-peer fundraisers and certified charity fundraisers than men.
There are also some small differences between person-to-person fundraiser donors and nonprofit fundraiser donors. GoFundMe person-to-person donors are largely from middle-class households, while certified charity fundraiser donors tend to have a higher average income.
The dollar value of social fundraising and sharing
Social media sharing by organizers, donors, and visitors is a powerful way to not only increase donations, but to also increase awareness about a cause or organization. For example, if a visitor to a GoFundMe fundraiser shares just once with their network, this results in an average of $13 in donations.
- Donors participating in social fundraising on GoFundMe tend to be younger than the average nonprofit donor.
- Donors participating in social fundraising on GoFundMe are primarily and increasingly engaging and donating on mobile devices.
- Social media sharing by organizers, donors, and visitors is a powerful way to not only increase donations, but also increase awareness about a cause or organization.
In 2017, social fundraising on GoFundMe resulted in over 1 billion visits from over 491 million users, which translates to over 31 visits per second.
The continuing trend to mobile
A large and increasing portion of social fundraising traffic on GoFundMe occurred on mobile devices. In 2017, 79% of traffic was on a mobile device, an 11% relative increase compared to 2015. Our observation of traffic shifting to mobile is consistent with tech industry trends in general, according to KPCB’s Internet Trends report in 2017.
In 2017, the portion of donations occurring on a mobile device was 62%, compared to 38% made on desktop. When compared to visits, traffic has a better donation conversion rate. Donation conversion is defined as the percent of visitors to a fundraiser page who go on to donate to the fundraiser.
While desktop traffic is a much smaller portion of traffic than mobile, desktop donors are more likely to make a donation. Similar to our observations of conversion rates, the e-commerce industry also observes that the conversion rate on mobile browsers is about half of the conversion rate on desktop, as reported in Criteo’s State of the Mobile Commerce report in 2016.
- Mobile will be increasingly where nonprofits need to engage their donors, organizers, and supporters.
- The move to mobile web, coupled with the engagement challenges faced by modern nonprofits, calls for a focus on mobile as a primary platform.
- There is an acceleration in the adoption of mobile-device friendly payments, and a major step toward improving mobile donation conversion.
In 2017, GoFundMe processed more than 30 donations every minute. This large number of donations makes it possible to derive rich and actionable insights about donors’ charitable social fundraising behavior.
GoFundMe donors span several generations and tend to be younger than the average nonprofit donor. Millennials and Gen X were well represented, making up nearly 50% of donors equally divided among the two generations.
Social fundraising donors tend to be grassroots
GoFundMe donors, unlike donors of traditional nonprofit organizations, tend to make smaller donations. In 2017, over 68% of donations were just $50 or less.
GoFundMe donors are mainly grassroots participants, meaning they are from the population’s middle income and lower-income tiers. The median annual household income of GoFundMe donors in the United States is just over $61,000, slightly higher than the national median household income of $59,000. Eighty-four percent of donations came from middle-class households, or those making between $40,000 and $120,000 per year.
Furthermore, contrary to some nonprofit’s fundraising efforts focusing on a small number of high net worth individuals, GoFundMe’s community suggests that there may be significant funding opportunities in encouraging smaller donations by a larger amount of supporters.
Defining the middle-income tier
The Pew Research Center defines the middle-income tier as those who make between 67% and 200% of their states’ median household income. We adopt and simplify the definition of the middle-income tier as those who make between 67% and 200% of the national median household income, $59,000. Under the definition, those who make less than $40,000 income make up the lower-income tier, those who make between $40,000 and $120,000 make up the middle-income tier, and those who make above $120,000 are in the upper-income tier. Among GoFundMe’s donors in the US, over 30% make less than $50k per year.
Why zip codes matter
We do not collect donors’ income but we do collect their zip codes. We use the annual median household income of the zipcodes provided by the donors, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, by aggregating the income for the same zip code. See the methodology section at the end of this article for more details.
Donors who give to nonprofits have slightly higher incomes
We notice variation when investigating the relationship between donor income and fundraiser categories. Donations to certified charity fundraisers and charitable causes tend to come from donors in wealthier areas, with median household incomes above $64,000. This is 7% higher than donors to memorial fundraisers, who have a median household income of just over $59,000.
Nonprofit donors on GoFundMe are solidly in the middle class
While certified charity donors tend to come from wealthier areas compared to other categories, most donors are still low income or middle class, with nearly 23% making less than $50,000 per year.
In 2017, 92% of donors to certified charity social fundraisers on GoFundMe were from middle-class households.
Women on GoFundMe represent the majority of donors and repeat donors
In 2017, 64% of donations were made by women, while 36% were made by men. Additionally, women were more likely to become repeat donors. In 2017, more than 25% of women made more than one donation, whereas 19% of men made more than one donation. These findings are consistent with research that shows that women are more likely to volunteer and connect with the emotional side of giving, according to a report by Fidelity Giving.
While women make up a majority of GoFundMe donors and are more likely to become repeat donors, they tend to donate more often in smaller amounts. The average donation size among men was 1.5 times that of women. Due to this, 45% of the total donation value came from men in 2017, despite making up only 36% of donors.
In addition to demonstrating differences in donation behavior when it comes to frequency and size, men and women also differ in the causes they support. More than 43% of donations to fundraisers related to sports, business, and creative projects came from men, despite only 36% of donations site-wide coming from men. While men make up a larger than expected portion of sports, business, and creative supporters, women represent 76% of donors to animal fundraisers, 69% to education-related fundraisers, and 66% to family fundraisers, despite making up only 64% of donors site-wide.
In regard to gender, donations to certified charity social fundraisers followed the same patterns. Sixty-six percent of donations to certified charity fundraisers came from women, while 34% came from men.
- Based on the income distribution of the large number of donors engaged in social fundraising, nonprofit organizations should consider diversifying their funding sources to include programs designed to solicit smaller, grassroots donations in volume.
- Donors who engage in this kind of giving tend to be younger and are often women. They give repeatedly to causes they can make an emotional connection with.
- On average, donors who give to nonprofit social fundraisers do have a slightly higher median income, but they are solidly in the middle class. Nonprofit organizations have an opportunity to complement their high-wealth donor initiatives with programs directed at engaging this group.
Social fundraising trends
Sharing on social media platforms is a powerful way to not only increase donations, but also increase awareness of a cause or an organization. In 2017, fundraisers on GoFundMe were shared over 14 million times, resulting in over 4 billion impressions. We define impressions as the number of times fundraisers appear in the news feeds of Facebook users.
The value of social fundraising and sharing is real
Nearly 20%, or 1 out of every 5 certified charity donors, shared the fundraiser following their donation, leading to even more donations. The average amount of donations generated by a donor’s share was $15. And even those who didn’t donate were able to help raise funds in the form of sharing, with the average amount generated by a visitor’s share being $13.
This means that when a supporter shared a fundraiser or a donation with their network of friends and family, that share alone will result in an average of $13 donated to that fundraiser.
Sharing on social media is a valuable tool and fundraisers on GoFundMe attest to that. On average, over 50% of a fundraiser’s donation volume received as a direct result of social media sharing comes from donor and visitor shares, while the rest is generated by the organizer’s share.
- There are significant funding opportunities for nonprofits that employ social fundraising. On average, getting a donor, supporter, or visitor to share a fundraiser results in a donation of $13 or greater.
- 1 in 5 donors is compelled to share a nonprofit fundraiser on social media following their donation. This should be recognized as a way to increase overall fundraiser donations and also amplify the awareness of the fundraiser and the nonprofit‘s mission.
- In addition, GoFundMe has identified these sharing behaviors as optimizable. This means that with the scale of data and in-depth multi-variant platform testing, these behaviors can be improved upon and made more valuable to the modern nonprofit.
Want to learn more?
Connect with an expert about how GoFundMe Charity can help your nonprofit grow and diversify using the power of social fundraising.