Today, I’m taking a look at four online donation aggregators whose monthly visitor count is under 100,000 a month. As you can see in the chart above, I’m talking about change.org, Changing the Present, GlobalGiving and MicroPlace. It looks like some organizations did better during the Giving Season than others. The biggest riser was MicroPlace, which was purchased by eBay in the summer of 2006 but was not actively announced as part of eBay until Spring of 2007.
It’s clear that the eBay acquisition has really improved MicroPlace’s standing in this market. Their traffic shot up like a rocket during the Giving Season and I can only attribute that to front-page links to MicroPlace on eBay itself and the continued difficulties by Kiva in securing a strong inventory of giving opportunities thus ensuring that users move on to other sites such as MicroPlace which are somewhat similar. There’s another thing – MicroPlace will give you a return on investment in real dollars. That’s basically where Kiva cannot go right now. I suspect MicroPlace ‘s FINRA/SIPC affiliation was part and parcel of this strategy to actually do what many social entrepreneurs dream of — real financial returns combined with social returns. Basically, MicroPlace can tout securities. That’s a huge win for them and is going to mark them as a serious player in the space and not just due to their eBay affiliation either. UPDATE: There’s more information by the Rails programmer who designed MicroPlace on his blog. Another thing I found out while reading the blog, PayPal is the credit card processor for MicroPlace and thus all transaction fees have been waived.
In an article on Auctionbytes, it’s clear that eBay is also considering the acquisition of Microplace as part of a corporate social responsibility theme to its marketing:
eBay’s Chief Marketing Officer Gary Briggs was answering a participant’s question about what eBay is doing to help promote saving the planet. He said in part, “A third point to bring up is MicroPlace, which [is] a group that we purchased that is making microfinance loans available to the developing world in particular, and we think – particularly as it relates to PayPal – that we think that’s a great thing to be able to do for the global community.”
Changing the Present also did remarkably well during the same period of time. It’s clear that Robert Tolmach’s strategy of pairing a gifts model with traditional donations is very robust. However, it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue in the first half of 2008. It’s also clear their communications director is doing a great job with public relations. There seems to have been a very directed PR push during the Giving Season. Almost all of the media articles cited in Changing the Present’s media section have published dates in November and December of last year.
I tend to think of Changing the Present as a kind of Personal Social Reponsibility strategy. It’s a way of trumpeting to your circle of friends your particular interests in saving the planet as it were. I think it’s very well connected to the way people actually perceive their own giving.
GlobalGiving also did well on the media front with many articles in its media room discussing GlobalGiving during the Giving Season. Its participation in the Giving Challenge turned out to be huge. Compete.com shows the following graph:
GlobalGiving was growing around two to three thousand visitors per day during the Giving Season. You can also see the traffic jump off at the same time the Giving Challenge started on the 13th of December. For whatever reason, Compete.com did not have enough data on change.org’s velocity at this time and could not report it.
Unfortunately, the most stagnant property here is change.org. change.org did not get significantly more visitor traffic during the Giving Season. They do have a saving grace though. It looks like out of all these four online properties, Change.org has the most devoted users with an appropriate spike during December.
User time spent on change.org is high commensurate with its position as the only social network among the four properties. However, as we have seen with Causes, it’s not clear that it’s easy to convert social networking affiliation into donations.
Again, I’d like to invite speculation as to how and why some properties are doing well and why others aren’t. And if you happen to be a principal of one of these Web sites (and I know some of you are), please feel free to explain how and what you did during the Giving Season to improve your traffic.