The number of gifts people are making online slowed last week for the second time in a row, compared with this time a year ago, but because donors are giving much larger average gifts, charities are barely feeling a decline in donations.
The number of gifts fell 12 percent last week, following a decline of 6 percent in the second week of December.
Still, the total dollar value of online gifts dropped by less than 1 percent last week because the average online gift rose to $149.21, up from $131.92 in the same week of 2011.
Those figures, based on donations to 8,700 charities that accept donations through the nonprofit group Network for Good, come after a promising start to the giving season last month and in initial days of December. The increases were triggered in part by the number of appeals for Superstorm Sandy and #GivingTuesday, an effort to increase charitable giving after Thanksgiving.
The lackluster fundraising returns in online giving this month seem to mirror the sluggish pace of holiday sales, which retailers say may be the worst since 2008.
But fundraising experts caution not to take too much from online-giving patterns because those gifts are a small percentage of what many charities raise.
What’s more, not all donations are suffering. Many donors are making large contributions this year because of fears that Congress won’t come to a deal on the fiscal cliff, allowing taxes to rise, and concerns that legislators could limit write-offs for charitable deductions next year.
Tell us what you’re seeing in the total value of donations your charity is raising in the last crucial days of the fundraising season.
See our interactive graphic to track year-end online giving by day.