I have a confession to make. I used to believe that online average gift size was a vanity metric. It made for interesting tweets and blog post headlines, but it wasn’t very useful.

But over time I have learned to love the online average gift size metric. There are some interesting and insightful trends when you really dig into the data. So I looked at nearly $500 million in online giving from over 2,500 nonprofits in 2012.

Here are five facts about online average gift sizes that I hope you’ll love too:

Online Average Gift Size by Sector
1. The Online Average Gift Size was $146 in 2012: Online gifts tend to be larger than traditional offline fundraising gifts, especially direct mail giving. More importantly, the online average gift in 2012 was up from $132 the prior year.

2. Education Institutions have the Largest Online Average Gift Size: The Education sector leads the way with an online average gift size of $629. The shows the real potential for significant online gifts.

3. Healthcare Organizations have the Smallest Online Average Gift Size: The Healthcare sector has an online average gift of $94. The prevalence of smaller peer-to-peer fundraising gifts contributes to a lower gift size compared to other sectors.

4. Online Average Gift Size has Seasonality: The size of an online gift changes a lot during the year. Every single sector sees fluctuations throughout the entire year. This reinforces the need to be change your online ask amounts throughout the year.

5. Online Average Gifts Size More Than Doubles in December: We already know that a lot of online giving happens in December. But did you know that the average gift size more than doubles in December? Even with all that extra volume the average gift size goes up.

Online Average Gift Size

Compare your own online average gift size trends to the chart above. How are you trending? Consider adjusting your online donation form ask amounts over time. Test different ask amounts with different groups. Whatever you do just don’t keep doing the same things over and over again.


Steve MacLaughlin is a Director of Analytics at Blackbaud where they leverage the company’s unique data assets to accelerate positive results for the nonprofit sector. Steve has spent more than 15 years building successful online initiatives with for-profit and nonprofit organizations across the world.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Institute of Fundraising National Convention, Civil Society Conference, Resoure Alliance’s Fundraising Online, and a keynote speaker at such events as the Crescendo Practical Planned Giving Conference.

Steve serves on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and supports its focus on both the growth and professionalism of the nonprofit technology field as well as building knowledge and information sharing capacity throughout the sector.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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