Thirty-two percent of working-age Catholics have given online to some cause at some point in the past. Among these, 17% donated online using automated payments, according to a report on U.S. Catholic and online giving from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.
The Committee on the National Collections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) commissioned the report, which was completed by CARA in October. Results from the report were delivered to the National Collections Committee, November 10, during the bishops’ annual fall General Assembly in Baltimore.
The report included conducting a survey of a sample Catholic working-age population. CARA also provided a literature review and analysis of the survey results in order to portray online giving patterns and recent trends.
“The knowledge gained from this report is important for our understanding of the current patterns of giving among Catholics,” said Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, chairman of the USCCB National Collections Committee. “We now know that online giving to charitable institutions is rising each year. These results from CARA will allow the Committee to assess our current systems for receiving donations. Moving forward, we will also be better equipped to implement any changes needed in order to reach Catholics, particularly young Catholics, who are giving online.”
The number one reason cited by donors for giving online was convenience. The second most-cited reason was the ability to respond quickly to an urgent need. Median gift amounts among online donors did not differ significantly from offline amounts.
Of donors who indicated they would be “a little” likely to give to at least one second collection, one in four preferred giving online. These results indicate an interesting trend among Catholics who attend Mass less regularly. According to the report, “Because respondents under 35 are least likely to be aware of second collections and less likely to be attending Mass weekly, an option to give online would very likely provide significant additional fundraising if young adult Catholics were made aware of this opportunity.”
The study also looked at the use of electronic devices, such as tablet computers (34%). The demographic most likely to use a tablet was also the group that attends Mass infrequently, choosing the option of at least once a month (40%). This group is also one of the most likely to prefer online giving options.
The most common recipient of all donations (online and offline) was religious organizations (46% of all donors give at least once per year). Other groups with high percentages were: health care or health research, veterans or first responders groups, children’s groups, and domestic food aid or disaster relief. Top giving priorities were the needs of local parishes and helping the poor and needy in local communities. The needs of local Catholic schools and the needs of dioceses also ranked high among donor priorities.
The full report is available online at http://www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/index.cfm.