Charities that can appeal to the emotions of young people and those that make pitches in lots of ways will fare the best in year-end appeals, according to a survey released today by Convio, the fund-raising software company.

Holiday giving this year will surpass $48-billion from more than 170 million American donors, with online contributions alone growing by 30 percent to more than $6-billion, the survey projected, based on the views of 1,148 people who plan to give during the holidays as well as a sampling of all American adults.

Seventy-four percent of American adults will make a year-end gift, many of them in response to at least two solicitation approaches, such as online appeals and supermarket checkout donations in 2010, the survey found.

Among the approaches that appeal to donors are direct mail (43 percent), supermarket checkouts and other such appeals at a store’s cash register (41 percent), buying something from a charity gift shop or catalog (25 percent), galas and other special fund-raising events (24 percent), online appeals (21 percent), or making a purchase from a company that gives a portion of the proceeds to charity (14 percent).

While some charities have added their holiday-giving catalogs and other appeals to Facebook and other social networks this year, the survey suggests that such efforts will have limited results. While 9 percent of the people polled said they expect to receive an online holiday appeal on Facebook, Twitter, or another social network this year, only 4 percent said they will make a year-end gift using those sites.

Size of Average Gift

Among the nearly three-quarters of adults who contribute during the holidays, the average donation will be $281, the survey found. But people who give online said they would contribute more than that, an average of $378.

The poll found that donors in their 40s or younger intend to be more generous with their year-end gifts than older donors. Four in five of donors in that age group, said they would donate to charity over the holidays, compared with 71 percent of people in their 50s through their mid-60s and 66 percent of people older than that. Donors in their mid-30s or 40s said they would give the most by far, $348 on average, compared with donors 33 or younger ($241), people in their 50s to mid 60s ($251), or those older than that ($268).

Seventy-four percent of people polled said they respond to emotional solicitations that provide information on people, animals, or places in need of their assistance—far more that those who respond to messages that stress an organization’s track record (53 percent), its strategies for the coming year (51 percent), or tax deductions for giving (28 percent).

The researchers cited another study this year by Convio and Sea Change Strategies that found younger donors to be more random in their giving and sensitive to emotional messages. Taken together, they said, the findings suggest that the holidays may be an opportune time to appeal to younger donors who have been difficult for many charities to recruit.

The study was conducted for Convio by Edge Research, a company in Arlington, Va.
Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy