Online Giving Trends

In this section, you'll find

Online engagement is a critical component of a nonprofit organization’s communication, fundraising, advocacy, and stewardship strategy. 2021 showed the vital role that online engagement and giving play in donors’ lives and nonprofits’ goals. We continue to see that the digital landscape is transforming the social good sector. In this section, we’re providing a specific look at online engagement trends to help you understand how to keep pace with this transformation. 

Online Giving Trends by Size

Online giving in 2021 grew 9% year over year for the 4,535 nonprofit organizations in the analysis. This was on top of significant growth in 2020, as well. Donors continue to show positive trends in terms of online giving and donations made on a mobile device.

Nonprofit organizations of all sizes had positive online giving growth in 2021 compared to 2020. Large organizations, with total annual fundraising of more than $10 million, had an increase of 9.8% in their online fundraising in 2021. Medium-sized nonprofits, with total annual fundraising between $1 million and $10 million, had an increase of 8.7% in their online fundraising. Small nonprofits, with total annual fundraising less than $1 million, grew their online fundraising 3.9% compared to 2020.

Taking a more longitudinal three-year view of fundraising from the same organizations revealed a 42% increase in online giving.

2021 Online Giving Trends by Organization Size

Percentage of Total Fundraising from Online Giving

We have measured the growth of online giving for more than 20 years. A key metric is the percentage of total fundraising that comes from online giving. Nonprofit organizations can use this metric to benchmark their online giving performance against peer organizations within each subsector or of a similar size.

2021 Percentage of Total Fundraising from Online Giving

2021 saw a slight change from 13% to 12%, but this is to be expected and not a sign that a preference for online giving is waning. In fact, this is a meaningful indicator that online giving is continuing to increase compared to pre-pandemic levels. As a point of comparison, the US Department of Commerce estimates that e-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2021 accounted for 13% of total sales. The data reveals once again that consumer behavior is also donor behavior.

“The past two years have shown the unwavering generosity of donors and their dedication to supporting the causes they care about. The appetite for giving is not waning, and savvy organizations now recognize the opportunity to shift from an episodic mindset to one of continuous engagement and stewardship.”

Percentage of Total Fundraising from Online Giving by Size

Small nonprofits continue to grow their digital fundraising programs, with 17.8% of their total fundraising coming from online giving. Medium-sized organizations saw 11.3%, and larger nonprofits increased to 11.1% in 2021.

Percentage of Total Fundraising from Online Giving by Subsector

The data continue to show how different subsectors continue to grow the percentage of overall giving that comes from online donations. 2020 was an important milestone for online giving and 2021 continued very positive trends as well.

Mobile Giving

The Blackbaud Institute has measured the growth in online donations made on mobile devices for many years now. In 2021, an estimated 28% of online donations were made using mobile devices and this held steady with trends from 2020. This has grown steadily since 2014, when it was just 9% of online donations.

With the age of mobile giving in full swing, organizations must be equipped to process mobile transactions and readily optimize and test their platforms. Mobile-friendly websites, email, and donation forms should work together seamlessly to maximize the supporter’s giving experience.

Percentage of Online Transactions Made Using a Mobile Device

Online Retention

Donor retention reflects how you keep in contact with your donors and build a pathway for continued support. It is a direct, quantifiable reflection of how you are engaging your donors and communicating your mission, and your online presence can amplify these aims. As online giving continues to grow each year, calculate these figures at your organization so you can benchmark the growth of giving channels from year to year.


First-Year, Online-Only Donor Retention Rate


Multi-Year, Online-Only Donor Retention Rate

As reported in Tipping Point: Aligning with Supporters in a Changing World organizations have recently seen an increase in participation from younger donors and donors of color. Among donors who supported a nonprofit new to them and donors who increased their giving since March of 2020, younger generations and non-whites showed up more prominently. And according to the research, these donors also indicated they are ready to keep giving. This moment reminds us to listen closely to new donor cohorts to ensure we are reaching them via the communication channels they prefer.

Online Giving Trends by Subsector

In 2021, there were six subsectors that experienced double-digit year-over-year growth in online giving. In particular, Medical Research organizations returned to growth in 2021 after a very challenging 2020. Public and Society Benefit and Arts and Culture nonprofits eclipsed 20% in year-over-year growth. It is also worth noting that the year-over-year decline for Human Services organizations should not be cause for alarm. These nonprofits grew online giving nearly 46% in 2020 and the difference between 2020 and 2021 was to be expected. In fact, when compared longitudinally, this is an indication that giving in this subsector remains strong.

2021 Online Giving Trends by Subsector

The three-year analysis of online giving found significant growth trends for most nonprofits in the analysis. Public and Society Benefit organizations grew online giving by more than 140% over the last three years. This is the largest increase by any single subsector in the analysis. During this time, social movements like Black Lives Matter and heightened attention to immigration issues have contributed to this anomalous increase.

Three-Year Rolling Trend

2021 Average Online Donation Amount by Subsector

The Charitable Giving Report continues to measure average online donation size by subsector. Across all subsectors, the average online donation is $204. This was a 15% growth rate in online average donations with many subsectors having solid increases in 2021. Just like with overall giving, we see a wide variance in average online donation amount among subsectors. This analysis includes all donations, including large major donations, which could also account for the higher numbers in some subsectors.

2021 Average Online Donation Amounts by Subsector

Online Giving Trends by Month

In 2021, the monthly trends in online giving began to return to normal distributions. The last three months of the year continue to represent a large percentage of online giving compared to the rest of the year.

2021 Online Giving Distribution by Month by Subsector

With end-of-year spikes in giving, be sure that your campaigns translate well online and offline. Your campaign must convey a core message that resonates with supporters. Think about what you want to say and how you’ll need to tweak it for every platform. Consider this an opportunity to try out new strategies, like a planned email series stretching throughout several weeks or months. Tap into practices like automation and segmentation to support your team’s stamina.

Download the Charitable Giving Report

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Where to next?

See the highlights of this year’s report and how you can make the most of the information to enhance your strategies.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Executive Summary of Findings
  • How to Use a Benchmark
  • About the Report and Blackbaud Institute Index
Read More

Year over year, the Charitable Giving Report found an increase in giving.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Online Giving Trends by Size
  • Fundraising from Online and Mobile Giving
  • Online Giving Trends by Subsector
  • Online Giving Trends by Month
Read More

Get a glimpse into how international giving trended in 2021.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Canada Giving
  • United Kingdom Giving
  • Australia/New Zealand Giving
Read More