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Important Factors and Their Combination on Digital Major Gift Fundraising

Thu, July 14, 12:00 to 1:00pm, TBA


Nonprofit organizations seek monetary donations to pursue their mission. Usually, the unit price of monetary donation is low in digital fundraising, making fundraising comparatively inefficient. However, some people donate relatively high amounts of money on the Internet, and some organizations receive such digital major gifts with high frequency. The present study identifies fundraising methods and organizational attributes that attract large donations, contributing to small nonprofits developing their activities quickly and solving social issues more effectively. In the present study, we focus on monetary donations of more than 50,000 yen (approximately equal to 500 dollars) as "digital major gifts."

Many factors may influence the major gift decision of potential donors. The frequency of fundraising campaigns(Sepehri et al., 2021) and public media exposure(Brown & Minty, 2008; Lobb et al., 2012) may affect the frequency of the gifts. Even on the Internet, communication with existing donors may be a significant factor in effective major gifts fundraising (Knowles and Gomes 2009). In Japan, tax deductions are available for donations to certified nonprofits and public interest corporations. The presence of a tax deduction as a rebate (Sasaki et al., 2021) for donations and the trust (Chapman et al., 2021) gained by that corporate status will influence the frequency of major gifts.

This study will test the hypotheses considered from previous studies using data obtained from actual donation payments history, questionnaires, and interviews. A Japanese digital fundraising website, "Syncable," provided us with anonymized donation data. More than 50 user organizations of Syncable answered the questionnaires that clarified their fundraising activities. We adopted two screening criteria to choose which organization to interview; the period of fundraising activities and the size of the overall annual budget. Interviews with about twenty organizations deepen the understanding of the relationship between their strategy and the result of digital fundraising. We aimed to include ten cases with high frequency of major gifts and ten cases with low freaquency. Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) (Berg-Schlosser & Meur, 2009)and other statistical methods will confirm the significant factors and their combinations to accrue digital major gifts.

The interviews with the nonprofit organizations are still ongoing as of November 2021. Findings include that organizations with a high frequency of digital major gifts do not necessarily have a clear strategy to attract such gifts, and that any single factor did not clearly explain the high frequency at this time. However, several factors such as managing donor communication history, numbers and types of fundraising campaigns, and media exposure might relate to the high frequency. The present study will scrutinize the detailed roles of such factors by using the QCA of the interview data.

The present study's findings are important for small nonprofits with fewer resources to invest in major gift fundraising. The factors identified by this research will be candidates of minimum requirements for digital major gift fundraising. For larger nonprofits, the result of this study will imply that they can realize more efficient fundraising investment to attract digital major gifts utilizing campaigns and digital communication management.