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Allyson Kapin 6 min read

2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study Highlights Online Advocacy, Fundraising, and Social Media Metrics

The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study was just released and is packed with insightful data on advocacy and fundraising response rates across the nonprofit sector. In particular we were excited to see advocacy response rates increased 28% between 2010 and 2011. The study also has some great data on how nonprofits are expanding their use of social media and mobile. For example, the median growth rate for nonprofit fan pages was an impressive 70%.

Email Open Rates:

  • Advocacy messages had the highest open rates, click-through rates and response rates – as well as the lowest unsubscribe rates.
  • Overall, email open rates held steady between 2010 and 2011. This is an important trend to note because over the past few years, the open rates were declining. Considering that list size has increased, and that older names will often grow stale, a year-over-year rate that remains steady is quite positive.
  • In 2011, the median email open rate was 14%.


Newsletter received on average a 13% open rate, a 1.6% click-thru rate, and a 0.17% unsubscribe rate.

Email Click-Thru Rates:

Click-through rates averaged 2.1% for all message types and across all verticals in the nonprofit community. The median click-through rate for an advocacy email was 4.2%; the median rate for a fundraising email was 0.47%.


Online Fundraising:

Despite the struggling economy, the nonprofit community did quite well in 2011 with their online fundraising.

  • On average, nonprofits increased their dollars raised online by 19% from 2010 to 2011.
  • The number of gifts rose by 20%.
  • Email-driven donation forms had a median completion rate of 17%.
  • The International sector experienced a 25% drop in fundraising response rates for the international sector. This is not surprising since 2010 was a watershed year for many international nonprofits due to the 163% spike in fundraising around relief following the Haiti earthquake and flooding in Pakistan.
  • On average, online monthly giving accounted for 8% of total online revenue in 2011, up from 5% in 2010.
  • On average, 35% of online revenue was sourced to direct email appeals. The remaining 65% came from other sources, such as unsolicited web giving and peer referrals.

Average Message Sent Per Month Per Subscriber:

This year, the environmental sector led in message volume, with an average of 5.7 messages per month per subscriber, well above the median of 4.7 messages.


Email List Size:

Nonprofits online lists grew on average by 16%,


Churn Rates:

Churn refers to the rate at which people unsubscribe, opt-out, or otherwise leave your lists and are an important metric to pay attention to.

The average list churn rate is 19%.

Social Media:

  • On average, nonprofits have 103 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers. The wildlife and animal welfare sector continues to have the largest Facebook presence, with a median of 72,784 total Facebook users.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, the median growth rate for nonprofit fan pages was 70% as we mentioned in the beginning of the blog post.
  • Wildlife and animal welfare remained the strongest performer of all the sectors, with an increase of 129%.
  • Over on Twitter, nonprofits had an average of 12,451 Twitter followers. The international sector had an average of 59,365 Twitter followers.
  • On average, a nonprofit has 29 Twitter followers for every 1,000 email subscribers.


Of the 44 nonprofits in the study study only 12 provided data on their mobile programs. The media growth in mobile subscribers was 46% between 2010 and 2011. And nonprofits have an average of 19,655 text message subsrcibers.


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.