The last week of December, usually a boom time in online donations, was fairly sluggish compared with 2011, according to figures from more than 8,700 charities whose performance The Chronicle has been tracking weekly since Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, the fourth quarter produced a surge in online gifts.
The amount donors contributed online fell by 1 percent, and the number of gifts declined by nearly 3 percent compared with the last week of 2011.
But overall results for the quarter are still impressive, largely because appeals in October and November produced strong returns, according to Network for Good, which has been providing data on charities it helps garner online gifts.
The total contributed in the last quarter through Network for Good grew 38 percent, while the number of online gifts rose 36 percent compared with the same time in 2011.
November was an especially strong month for giving, the Network for Good figures show, as donors responded to appeals to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and to support #Giving Tuesday, an effort to spark giving right after Thanksgiving.
Network for Good officials say they think the November rise in giving might suggest that many donors gave early this year—and were tapped out by the time December came. In each of the last three weeks of December 2012, giving was slower than in the previous year.
The overall growth rate for the quarter is a good sign for 2012 giving totals, they note, but until charities assess their overall donations, it's still hard to see if it's just a sign donors are writing fewer checks and instead giving online.
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See our interactive graphic to track year-end online giving by day.