CEC Theses and Dissertations


An Investigation of the Web Sites of the 100 Largest Nonprofit Organizations in the United States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Steven D. Zink


This dissertation presents the results obtained from a four-part investigation of the Web sites of the 100 largest nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in the United States (U.S.). The first part of the investigation examined the online donation process. A key part of this was a timed test of making a $10 donation through each Web site. This test found that on average a donor must traverse 5.1 pages to complete a donation when starting on the organization's home page. The average time to complete the donation was 4.3 minutes.

The second part of the investigation examined how NPOs utilize Web sites. All of the Web sites disseminated information. Soliciting donations was the second most common use of NPO Web sites. Ninety-eight sites requested financial donations and 29 solicited in-kind gifts. The sites also sold various forms of merchandise and offered a number of free products such as e-mail newsletters, electronic greeting cards, and screensavers.

The third part of the investigation examined NPO Web sites for issues that affected Web site navigation, performance, popularity, and usability. Only one of the NPO's home pages passed a validation from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for proper coding. Only eight home pages conformed to the lowest level ofW3C guidelines for assuring access to the Web by individuals with disabilities.

The final part of the investigation addressed the collection of information from Web site visitors. NPO Web sites collected name, address, credit card number and other personal information from Web site visitors. Out of the 100 sites, 92 used cookies, 79 posted privacy policies, and 75 included information practice statements on pages asking for information.

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