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Allyson Kapin 5 min read

How Online Trends in 2016 Will Impact Your Nonprofit

The 2016 Benchmarks Study was recently released and highlights the latest nonprofit trends and strategies with an eye on shifts throughout the past decade. The study is comprised of a diverse mix of 105 nonprofits of various sizes and sectors. The study analyzed 2.8 billion email messages sent to over 69 million list subscribers, $481 million of online donations from over 13 million online gifts, and 8.2 million advocacy actions.


If you don't have time to read through the entire report, don't fret: we've pulled some key findings for you.

1. Overall, 13% of online gifts were made from mobile devices — a number that likely reflects both user preference and increasing adoption of mobile optimization best practices by nonprofits.

2. For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. In 2006, those numbers were basically zero, zero, and zero: Facebook was limited to .edu email addresses, Twitter was just about to launch, and Instagram’s founders were still in college.

3. Organizations post to Facebook an average of 1.3 times per day and tweet an average of 3.8 times per day.  

4. Nonprofits have invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 of online revenue raised. This might not seem like much, but considering that overall online revenue grew by 19% in the last year, digital advertising is an increasingly important market for acquisition, conversion, and retention.

5. Email volume has been turned way up: the average nonprofit in the study sent the average subscriber on its list 49 email messages in 2015.

6. On average, about 24% of subscribers are considered inactive — sending fewer messages to this audience will tend to keep both hard bounces and unsubscribes low. 

7. Monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue – and monthly giving is growing quite a bit faster than one-time revenue. Monthly online revenue was up 24%, compared to 18% growth for one-time giving.

8. For every 1,000 fundraising messages delivered, the average organization raised $44. How much is your nonprofit raising comparatively?

While it's useful to understand the trends, what isn't useful is obsessing over vanity metrics. Focus on realtime engagement, donor acquisition, moving your audiences up the ladder of engagement for a more connected community, and figuring out what is really, truly working for you. M+R's goal in this study was that you were able to extract meaningful lessons and identify the metrics that matter most to your nonprofit. Your needs will never be identical to another nonprofit's specific needs and goals.

Have you noticed any patterns or trends in your online communications so far this year? How do you plan to maximize what's working, and change course when strategies aren't as successful?


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.