Study: Online Revenue and Email Revenue Up for Nonprofit Organizations

The just released M+R Benchmarks Study 2016 (in collaboration with the Nonprofit Technology Network) contains lots of interesting data about the state of online fundraising and marketing among nonprofit organizations. Some highlights

  • Online revenue is up 19%.
  • Although email opens and click-throughs are down, email fundraising is up 25%, and among the 25 top performing  (dollars raised online)  study participants, over one-third of their online revenue is via email.
  • Nonprofits sent more emails around fundraising and advocacy in 2015 than the year prior, but the response rate decreased.
  • For every 1,000 emails sent, nonprofits raise about $44.
  • The average one-time gift ranged from $61 (Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits) to $168 (Rights nonprofits).
  • Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits have the highest rates of engagement on social media.
  • On average, just over 1% of website visitors make a donation.

The Benchmarks study may help you gauge your nonprofit’s development and marketing metrics against sector averages, in fact, on page 17 the authors advise how to best use the data comparatively. The study is available to download for free at www.mrbenchmarks.com .

Think You Know Giving Profiles?

Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy indicates gender income differences influence charitable giving, particularly among married couples. Where Do Men and Women Give? Gender Differences in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving and Do Women Give More? Findings from Three Unique Data Sets on Charitable Giving, both authored by Debra Mesch, Una Osili, Jacqueline Ackerman, and Elizabeth Dale, utilize data from the Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), the Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy surveys (HNW), and the Million Dollar List (MDL) to examine patterns in giving level and activity. Their analysis found that single women made more charitable contributions than their male counterparts (except in the highest net worth category) but overall, marriage increased the occurrence and dollar amount of charitable contributions.

Among those married, an increase in the husband’s income was associated with increased giving in both activity and amount, specifically to charitable organizations related to religion, basic human needs, health, and education. Married couples who shared in decision making around philanthropy also tended to give more. Still, the relationship between income, gender, and charitable giving is a complicated one. For example,  when women earned more than their husbands, giving activity dropped in comparison to households where the husband’s income was higher.

Sectors supported also differed by gender, as households headed by a female were more apt to donate to youth and family, health, and international causes, while those with a male decider were more likely to give to religious and education organizations.  As far as social issues however, married couples with female deciders ranked animal welfare as a top priority, while those with a male decider prioritized the arts.

Examining giving at a level deeper than the “household” may help nonprofits and charities improve engagement with current and future donors.  These papers, as well as a literature review on women’s charitable giving, are available at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s website.

Nonprofit Benchmarks – Social Media Continues to Grow but Email is Still on Top

M+R, in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), recently released the 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study  a look at data from a sample of nonprofits on email lists and messaging,  fundraising, web traffic,  social media activity and following, and online advocacy and/or programs.  The study can be downloaded from M+R or at the NTEN website and offers the opportunity to create your own infographic. Some highlights from the 2014 data,

  • Email list size for study participants grew by 11 percent, although growth slowed for all nonprofits except environmental groups.
  • Open rates increased across all types of emails – a 4 percent increase overall (an average of 14% in 2014). However, response rates for both fundraising and advocacy email declined.
  • Cultural groups had the highest open rate of any nonprofit sector at 20 percent, as well as the highest fundraising click-through rate at 0.70 percent and the highest fundraising response rate at 0.10 percent.
  • Website visitors per month increased 11 percent over 2013. However, the amount nonprofits raised per website visitor dropped 12 percent to $0.61 from 2013.
  • 76 percent of nonprofits surveyed utilized paid web marketing, with text and display ads the most popular methods.
  • Nonprofits continue to grow their social media audience (Facebook followers were up 37 percent, Twitter followers, 46 percent) but both pale in comparison to the numbers of email subscribers.

 

Nonprofit Boards Rated Slightly Above Average on Overall Performance

Would you give your board an A plus in performance?   If yes, then you are in the minority according to Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, a report that indicates both nonprofit executives and board chairs consider their board performance only slightly above average, with an overall grade of B minus.  Survey respondents from across the country rated their boards in various areas of responsibilities with average grades ranging from an A minus in mission to a C in fundraising.

The study, conducted by BoardSource, found that boards excel at tasks of a technical nature, such as compliance and fiscal oversight, while lagging in community outreach and acting as an “ambassador” for the organization. Other areas of improvement noted:

  • Diversity. Inclusiveness in board composition – not as a numbers issue but as a valid representation of people involved in the organization – is an area in need of attention with 35 percent of the CEOs surveyed giving their board a B or above in this area.
  • Showing up. Board attendance is declining, with less than half (37 percent) of boards surveyed reporting 90 percent or better attendance in 2014.
  • Raising money. While board giving is up, fundraising is a sensitive issue. Less than ¼ of boards reported even being comfortable with providing donor contact information, and just 12 percent were comfortable meeting donors face to face.
  • Information and strategy. 35% of the boards received a C or below in the area of strategic planning.

The data and implications around these and other areas of board performance are presented in the full report, available at the Leading with Intent website. You can learn more about BoardSource here.

This was a national study, but board report cards are also a great tool at the organizational level.  These kind of self-evaluations help gauge board members’ perceptions of their own levels of knowledge and confidence, as well as measure overall board performance.  This information assists the board in identifying and discussing areas of strengths and limitations and prioritizing governance actions for the upcoming year.

 

 

 

 

Report Citation: BoardSource, Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices (Washington, D.C.: BoardSource, 2015)