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Data Geeks & More!

by | Apr 25, 2020

It’s my favorite time of the year…M+R just released their 2020 Annual Benchmark Study of online fundraising.

This year’s report is based on 201 nonprofit participants across nine sectors (Cultural, Environmental, Health, etc.). It’s presented in a new, digital format which makes it even easier to pick and choose the perspectives you want to see.

I’m not going to try and recap all the findings here—I’ll let you experience the explore-and-discover delight for yourself. But, there were a few things that jumped out at me.

More Monthly.

While overall revenue increased by 10% last year, monthly revenue was up by 22% (one-time gifts up by 8%). The overall average monthly gift was $25, less than one-fourth the average one-time gift of $111. But do the math; a year’s worth of giving adds up to $300.

Overall retention was up 39%; 22% for first time donors and 58% for repeat donors. And although it’s not reported here, retention of monthly donors is even higher, typically 80% or better.

That will likely fall short-term, as some monthly commitments are cancelled due to current economic conditions. But monthly donors are still a core segment, well worth the investment of time, energy and resources.

Currently monthly giving represents 26% of online giving for large organizations (greater than $3 million in online revenue), 20% for medium organizations ($500,000 to $3 million) and only 15% for small organizations (less than $500,000).

Which is unfortunate, because it is those small organizations that will most need the stability monthly donors provide in the coming months.

More Engagement?

On average, email list size fell by 2% and the number of messages per subscriber by 2.1%. These trends would seem to indicate organizations are taking better care of their constituent base, both in terms of list hygiene and message volume.

And it appears to be working. Engagement was up. Open rates for Advocacy emails were 16% with click-through rates of 2.8% (vs. 15% and 2.4% in last year’s study).

For Newsletters, open rates were 19% and click-through rates were 1.8% (vs. 16% and 1.3%) and for Fundraising emails, open rates were 17% and click-through rates were 0.56% (vs. 14% and 0.44%).

All very positive.

But I see a concern, especially in light of our current climate. While the number of overall messages went down, the number of Fundraising messages actually increased 2.5% (the fall-off came in Advocacy (-19%) and Newsletter (-4.2%) messages.)

Further, the overall reduction was among small (-10%) and medium (-19%) organizations—the nonprofits that need to be most concerned about maintaining their ties with current supporters.

More Options.

Mobile. Texting. Social. Digital advertising. How does an organization decide where to invest precious resources?

Email continues to be the mainstay of outbound fundraising, accounting for 16% of online revenue (down from 18% the prior year). But nearly half (44%) of website traffic comes from organic traffic. How do you drive that?

According to this report, for every 1,000 email addresses, nonprofits had 496 Facebook fans, 221 Twitter followers, 83 Instagram followers and 72 mobile subscribers.

3.5% of online revenue comes from Facebook, primarily from peer-to-peer initiatives.

Investments in digital advertising increased 17% in 2019.

Overall, about half (44%) was direct fundraising:

  • 44% for large organizations

  • 51% for medium

  • 21% for small

This was followed by awareness/education (24% overall):

  • 25% for large organizations

  • 13% for medium

  • 46% for small

Lead generation comprised the smallest investment (23% overall):

  • 23% for large organizations

  • 22% for medium

  • 32% for small

While search efforts delivered a positive return ($3.59 per dollar spent), display, social and video ads continue to be an investment spend.

It will be particularly interesting to see what this section looks like next year. What caught your eye on this year’s report?

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