New Google Study: Year-End Donor Giving Patterns

Last fall, Google noticed a 30% uptick in searches using general donation terms from August to September. This data point inspired Google to commission a study to see what else it could learn about donors’ online-giving habits.

Google “sort-of” released that consumer behavior research this past week revealing that people do actually start thinking about donating in September. The study, conducted by Millward Brown Digital, a market-research firm specializing in predictive behavior analysis, included an online survey of 982 people and analysis of the online behavior for six months of 2 million people who had agreed to let the company track their activities online.

So far, Google has only shared the research findings with its nonprofit clients and announced plans to release the information more widely in “the coming weeks” where we’ll be able to analyze the results more carefully. Until then, here’s the scoop on the data we found published so far:

Online Donor Behavior Patterns


  • 57% of survey participants said they had made a contribution after watching a charity’s online video

  • 39% of people who watch a video look up the accompanying organization within 24 hours of viewing

  • 79% of donors surveyed reported that online video ads were the most useful online media marketing they were exposed to

  • Video ads tied with email ads for the highest and fastest levels of engagement

  • YouTube was listed as the top video platform

Research Behavior

  • 75% of donors started their charity research via online versus offline

  • Online was stated by survey respondents to be 20% more useful than direct mail in terms of impacting their decision to donate

  • Nearly 50% of donors visited multiple nonprofit Web sites before making a donation

    • 39% visited two to four charity sites

    • 8% visited five or more charity sites

Mobile Played a Major  Role

  • 40% of survey participants said they conducted research about charities on their mobile devices

  • 25% said they made donations using smartphones and tablets

    • 45% of mobile users said that they made their contributions using a browser

    • 28% percent said they donated by text message

    • The remaining 27% of mobile donors reported using mobile apps, click-to-call features, and other mobile options