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Allyson Kapin 10 min read

eNonprofit Benchmarks Study Reveals Latest Metrics for Advocacy, Fundraising and Social Media

Do you know the average click-through and open rates on action alerts and fundraising appeals across the nonprofit sector? Are enewsletters still worth your organization’s time? Are nonprofits experimenting with mobile more? Check out the 2010 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN which surveyed 40 nonprofit organizations and analyzed all of this data and more.

Key Benchmarks: How Did Your Nonprofit Measure Up?

Online Fundraising

Online fundraising grew 14% from 2009 to 2010. However, it’s important to note that the 2010 fundraising response rate was actually 0.08% and fell 19% on average from 2009 to 2010. So how’s it possible that online fundraising actually grew 14%? The study said that the International sector drove this growth, which experienced a 163% increase in donations  spurred by disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan. Many nonprofits also saw an increase in the number of donations, a sign that that more people feel that economy is recovering.

Out of all sectors in the nonprofit community, International groups had the highest average gift size ($117) for a one-time gift and monthly donations ($33 monthly gifts). This is likely due to their on-the-ground work in critical disaster areas and where donors feel that their donations are making a big difference.  The average one time donation across sectors was $60 and $20 for monthly giving.

Across all sectors, one-time donations made up 90% or more of all online revenue. Nonprofits need to pay special attention to this stat. On average, only 10% of your online members are making more than one donation. Why is that? Are you online fundraising appeals compelling enough? Are you doing a good job telling your story and not getting caught in organizational red tape? Are you donation pages optimized for the user? Or is the donation flow clunky and confusing? Are you treating your donors like an ATM machine or do you have a well thought-out strategy for cultivating them and moving them up the ladder.

Online Advocacy and Email

Advocacy emails had the highest open, click-through, and response rates of any type of email, as well as the lowest unsubscribe rate. Fundraising emails had the lowest click-through rate. These stats are not surprising and show how many more people on nonprofit’s list are willing to take some sort of action on behalf of your organization, but they require a much deeper level of nurturing and engagement to turn them into donors.

The 2010 advocacy response rate was 3.3%. From 2009 to 2010, advocacy response rates declined 7% on average.

The average study participant sent 3.6 emails per subscriber per month, and sent 6 emails per subscriber in December. Remember, December is the biggest month for online fundraising. Many nonprofits raise up to 40% of all of their online fundraising just in December.

Newsletter open rates were 12%. Click-through rates was 2% and the unsubscribe rate was .22%. Advocacy actions and items of personal interest tend to result in more click-throughs from newsletters. Accordingly, it was the Environmental and Wildlife/Animal Welfare groups had the highest click-through rates in this year’s study, followed by Health organizations, where many people have personal connections.


Social Media

Social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, continue to grow and most nonprofits in the study had a presence on both platforms (34 groups were on Facebook s and 36 groups were on Twitter).

The average nonprofit in the study had 4,632 followers and was following an average of 1,758 people. Nonprofits had, on average, 19 Twitter followers for every 1,000 email subscribers. However, the study could not indicate if these Twitter followers overlapped with the nonprofits email subscribers – mainly because many nonprofits have not done social media appends to learn this data.

On average, nonprofit Facebook fan pages had 15,053 users, defined as people who “Like” a fan page. The Animal Welfare sector lead the way with an average of 83,246 fans.

Facebook users for nonprofit fan pages grew an average of 14% per month in 2010.

Facebook users were much more engaged with nonprofits in the Wildlife/Animal Welfare sector than in any other sector. The Wildlife/Animal Welfare sector had a Facebook fan page action rate that was nearly twice as high as the average.

Nonprofits are Using Social Media. But Are They Rasing Money and Generating Actions?

So nonprofits are building fanpages, posting to them, and tweeting. But are they raising more money through social media? Very little. According the 2010 Nonprofit Social Network Survey, “while 40.4% (38.9% in 2009) of survey respondents reported fundraising with Facebook, 77.6% of these organizations raised $1,000 or less.”  Are nonprofits seeing an increase in action rates, volunteerism as a result? Some say social media can create and spread revolution?  Are Members of Congress paying attention to comments. Nope. A recent study by the Congressional Management Foundation says decision-makers on the fence, don’t pay attention to social media comments because there is no way to verify if these people are from their District. At the same time, nonprofit’s can’t ignore where many people spend time on the web. Facebook is the 2nd most trafficked site and Twitter is the 6th according to Quantcast. Bottom line. Have a presence on these two social networks and spend some time fostering a community and developing relationships as part of your outreach. But be realistic about what it will and won’t do for your advocacy and fundraising goals.


More Resources:

New Guiding Principles for Fundraising - Frogloop

Latest Report: What Messaging and Channels Influence Congress? - Frogloop

Can Social Media Create and Spread Revolution? - Frogloop


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.