A Day In the Life of the Internet User

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06.27.2011By

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “76% of American adult Internet users use the Internet on an average day.” So what do these people do online everyday? Thankfully, Pew Research was also curious. For adult Internet users, they found:

  • –61% send or read email
  • –49% Use a search engine to find information
  • –41% Get news
  • –38% Go online for fun or to pass the time
  • –37% Use an online social networking site like
  • –34% Check the weather
  • –29% Look for information on a hobby or interest
  • –23% Watch a video on a video-sharing site (i.e. YouTube)
  • –17% Look for information on Wikipedia
  • –15% Send instant messages
  • –13% Play online games
  • –2% Use Twitter or another status-update service
  • –1% Make a donation to a charity online

Besides double checking your organization’s Wikipedia page–or better yet, creating one–what does this data mean in your work to inspire generosity? A lot. Here are three quick take-aways:

1.  People Don’t Go Online to Donate–But They Still Donate

As of May 2010, Pew found that 1% of adults give online on an average day. To give this number more context, Pew also found that 22% of adult Internet users give online in general. These numbers might seem low–especially when compared to the numbers from Network for Good’s Online Giving Report which shows online giving increasing at a skyrocketing rate year after year–with over $380 million raised online in 2009 alone.  But not so fast. Here’s a sneaking suspicion–for Pew’s survey, people are asked what they do online. The point? People give online–but they don’t go online with that initial intent. Tip:  This is why you need to do more than ask for a donation in your online message.

2.  Invest in Optimizing Your Website or Blog

While 2% of adult Internet users might use a service like Twitter on a daily basis (Note: 13% of online adults use Twitter in general), 49% of users are searching online for information. When was the last time your nonprofit’s Web site was optimized? Have you considered optimizing it in another language (a huge opportunity here for those that this is relevant for) or optimized your information for mobile use? Tip:  Be sure and optimize your social platforms for search as well. Still curious about Twitter? Geoff tackles the big Twitter question over on Frogloop–it’s worth the read.

3.  You Get What You Give

In other words, offer value. Two of the top daily activities include people searching for interesting, timely and relevant and useful information–either for news gathering purposes, for fun or to pass the time. Their attention is up for the taking. You might not think you have “newsworthy” information–but often, if you dig deep enough into the people behind your cause and the lives touched by it–you can identify some quality content that will catch supporters’ (and potential-supporters’) attention.

What some help? Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel wrote a great book titled: The Elements of Journalism. In this book, they walk you through the seven elements (proximity, timeliness, impact, etc.) that make news–news. Some people and organizations adjust the elements to work for them. This can make an excellent brainstorming opportunity. Gather those vested in your mission and ask: What’s newsworthy to our cause? Tip: To offer true value, it’s important to look both inside and outside of your organization.

BONUS TIP #4: Remember that post on the importance of email marketing? The data above gives you one more reason to give it another read.

Dig Deeper

What are your supporters doing online from day to day? Go one step further by asking yourself this question–and do some additional research. After all, asking for donor feedback is another way to keep donors vested while also showing your sincerity and authenticity. That’s the easy part. The harder question is: How can you work your brand, message, mission and organization into people’s daily online lives? Stayed tuned to learn more about that as our journey to Inspire Generosity continues.

What insights do you gather from Pew’s research? Do you agree or disagree with this synopsis?

Image: Mandy_Jansen