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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

What Makes Social Media Users Donate to Charity?

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Trust the messenger, not the medium. That appears to be the motto of charitably inclined social media users, according to a new survey by the American Red Cross.

The survey, conducted online among 1,021 U.S. adults in mid-October, found that 71% of social users had donated to a charity in the preceding 12 months, and 60% of those had donated online.

Respondents indicated that a personal connection was particularly important to them when deciding to make a charitable donation.

Seventy percent said they would take some kind of action if a friend posted a story on social media about giving to a charity.

Not only that, while just 3% thought social media was the most effective way for a charity to ask for money, 19% said they would make a donation if they saw a friend post about a recent donation.

“This survey shows how social networks and charitable giving are intersecting and building on one another,” Gail McGovern, the Red Cross’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“These social philanthropists are giving online to charities and sharing the news on social networks, which then often leads to more social activity and more giving by their friends. I believe this trend will only grow in the future.”

Giving Season Begins

Still, face-to-face interaction is the best way to solicit donations, according to the survey.

Forty-two percent of social users said they were likelier to give this year over last year via an offline option such as mailing a check, putting money in a store countertop canister or giving to someone in a public place.

These actions trumped options such as texting or using social media to donate.

Thirty-seven percent said they would likely make a charitable donation in response to an in-person request.

The survey also showed that trends and hype did not move social users to make charitable donations.

Seventy-two percent of those polled said a charity’s popularity in the media or trending status on Twitter did not influence their decision to donate.

How about receiving something like a memento, ornament or piece of clothing in exchange for a charitable donation? Fifty-one percent said such come-ons would not increase their likelihood to give.

The survey results showed yet another way in which social activity is influencing nonprofit groups and their work as holiday giving gets underway.

#Giving Tuesday, a national campaign to make the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the start date of the annual giving season, is only in its third year, but 41% of social users in the survey said they were aware of it.

Of those, 47% said they planned to participate this year. #Giving Tuesday falls on Dec. 2.


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