Proliferation of Online Giving

In the language of Guidestar's president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff, "Giving through GuideStar is quick, convenient and easy." This is music to the ears of a new generation of donors who operate through e-mail, online social networks, websites and credit cards. According to popular wisdom, methods of mass mail solicitations are not effective in reaching Generation X and beyond because they seem wasteful of time and resources and are rarely visually compelling. Thus, they fall into the recycling bin with the junk mail.

Satisfying the desires of this generation online-giving clearinghouses such as GuideStar and Network For Good make it simple to research and contribute to organization. Both strive to provide in-depth and objective information on nonprofits so that givers can have confidence that their donation is making desired impact. Conveniently, the giver's personal information is confidential and the individuals will not receive solicitations. In addition, after making an online donation to one or multiple organization, Guide Star provides the giver with a single receipt for the charitable donation.

In addition to sites that can direct donations, there are many independent sites that provide ratings based on organizational efficiency and capacity. One particular site, Charity Navigator offers an evaluation of over 5,300 charities searchable, and organized by category. Online donors can give with certainty after finding the rating of the organization and analyzing who benefits from their services. In addition, organization can save a great deal of money in donor solicitation costs by substituting online methods as opposed to direct mailing and cold calling.

The one drawback to online giving is that it is less personal that face to face or even phone solicitations. However, many organization to offer an e-Newsletter to keep in touch with donors and interested parties. While there is less loyalty to a particular recipient from year to year among online donors, there variation may be a factor of generation and not of medium. These factors aside, online giving has the capacity to engage young professionals in philanthropy in a whole new way.