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Monday, September 18, 2017

Charity Navigator Provides Necessary Resource For Donors in Times of Crisis

Matt Dragon Charity Navigator Hurricane Harvey Irma data
At Charity Navigator, our staff works every day to publish ratings and information about charities and giving with the aim of informing donations. We focus on helping donors feel comfortable with the process of giving and helping them trust the charities they are supporting.  Users access our site and ratings throughout the year, but the bulk of donations made through our Giving Basket, come in the last week of December.

The Giving Basket allows users on our site to donate to any currently registered public 501(c)(3) charity, including donating to multiple charities, within a single check out.  Of all donations made through our site in 2016, 33% of donations were in the last week of December.   All of that donation activity is generated from just 3.5% of our annual site traffic that occurs during that week.  One possible explanation for this discrepancy would be that our users do research and donate throughout the year but then return at the end of the year to complete their planned donations for the year.

When Hurricane Harvey struck southeast Texas, there was widespread devastation and those who lived in the area immediately had their lives changed.  That devastation and impact on those residents continues to this day.  But even as the rain was still falling, our users were already responding, coming to our site to find charities responding to the disaster via our Hot Topic.  Tuesday, August 29, was the 3rd largest day for number of donations made using the Giving Basket and was the 5th largest day for dollars donated through the Giving Basket.

In the 17 days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the generosity of users on our site drove an almost 2,100% increase in donations and an almost 2,600% increase in dollars donated over the similar prior period of 17 days.  Donations totaling over $1.2 million were made directly from our list of charities responding to Hurricane Harvey. Charities on our Hurricane Harvey Hot Topic received over 28k donations, from over 23k donors, totalling over $3.1 million in the 17 days following landfall in Texas. This was an amazing response by donors to the immediate and widespread need that Hurricane Harvey created in Texas and Louisiana.

Similar to the last week of the year, donors were coming to our site looking to donate and the spike in donations far outweighed the corresponding spike in visits.  Even beyond the increase in users and correspondingly donors, the generosity of those donors and their willingness to give during the crisis was the driving force behind the motivation to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  The first week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall represents the largest number of visits to our site for as far back as in 2006, the earliest we have comparable data.
The composition of those visitors is also different. Within that 353% total increase, the largest increase by device type was a close-to 500% increase in visits using a phone, just shortly followed by the increase in visits using tablet.  By contrast visits from desktop, traditionally our biggest share of visitors, only increased 272%.  Yes, I just used the phrase “only” to describe a 272% increase.

As I write this article, 1,300 people are on the site at 8:30pm on a Tuesday, looking for charities that will allow them to support those impacted by another massively damaging hurricane that has struck the US, Hurricane Irma.  The charities working to help in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina following Hurricane Irma are hoping that donors will continue to donate in record fashion now that hundreds of thousands of more of our neighbors have had their lives uprooted and may not have a home to return to.

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