Tue, March 22 2011

New studies show online giving up - but results may vary

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Convio has released its Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study, and M+R followed with its own 2011 eNonprofits Benchmarks Study.  It’s interesting to compare and contrast the results.

1. Online fundraising continues to grow - but just how much varies. Convio says overall, 79 percent of organizations included in its report raised more in 2010 than 2009, while 21 percent saw declines in their online fundraising. All but three verticals (Association & Membership, Public Broadcasting Stations, and Team Events) had a growth rate greater than 10 percent.  It puts overall growth at 40%.  Convio says an increase in gift count and average gift size primarily drove fundraising gains. Of those that grew fundraising in 2010, 88 percent saw an increase in the number of gifts and the average gift size grew more than $8 in 2010.

But M&R reports more steady growth of 10 percent in 2010, when disaster giving is discounted. M&R says online fundraising revenue grew overall by 14% between 2009 and 2010 when you include the enormous 163% increase in the International sector due to emergencies like the earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan:

The reason for the wide data gap is that M+R looked deeper and found that when you remove international groups (whose numbers received an enormous boost due to crises in Haiti and Pakistan) from the equation, then last year’s growth was the same as the year before. Yes, it’s a downer but it’s also good to provide more reasonable data for all the organizations who are scratching their heads and wondering what they could have done differently last year to clear that 40-percent bar.

When Network for Good did the same exercise, we found our nonprofits were up 17 percent - somewhere in between these results.

2. Advocacy continues to play an important role - but again, results vary. Convio said the total number of advocates on file increased by 20 percent, and 6.4 percent of advocates on file were also donors, up from 5.9 percent in 2009. But M+R found the 2010 advocacy response rate was 3.3%. From 2009 to 2010, advocacy response rates declined 7% on average.

M+R has useful benchmarking data for email, social media and mobile:

• Annual email list churn was 18%.
• The average study participant sent 3.6 emails per subscriber per month, and sent 6 emails per subscriber in December.
• On average, nonprofit Facebook fan pages had 15,053 users, defined as people who “Like” a fan page.  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.
• On average, an organization’s text messaging list size was 1.9% of its email list size.
• Annual mobile list churn was 14% in 2010.

UPDATE: M+R just released this nifty infographic on the study.

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