How Do Your Nonprofit's Online Numbers Compare?

Nonprofit online fundraising grew for a second year in a row, driven largely by an increase in gifts to rights-based nonprofits. Are you seeing the same levels of growth?
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It's good business to know how your company compares to your peers. What are you excelling at? What are they getting right that you're not? And what should you focus on to keep up with the pack?

This basic business principle applies to nonprofits as well. That's why for the sixth year, my team at M+R has partnered with NTEN to help nonprofits keep a watchful eye on trends in online advocacy, fundraising, messaging, social media, and mobile communications.

To research the report we worked with 44 nonprofits -- including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, AARP, the American Red Cross, and the World Wildlife Fund -- to measure and analyze various growth rates.

The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study showed nonprofit online fundraising grew for a second year in a row, driven largely by an increase in gifts to rights-based nonprofits. While the response rates to fundraising email messages stayed fairly consistent for nonprofits in 2011, the average rates of new Facebook fans, mobile subscribers, and people who took action from an advocacy email soared.

Specific findings among the various nonprofits surveyed revealed that:

  • By the end of 2011, nonprofits on average had 70 percent more Facebook fans than they did at the start of the year.
  • For every 1,000 members of an organization's email list, the average nonprofit had 103 Facebook fans, 29 Twitter followers and 12 mobile subscribers.
  • Although one-time gifts are still the mainstay of nonprofit fundraising, monthly giving grew faster than one-time giving.
  • The number of email subscribers responding to calls to action online (signing a petition, sending a letter to Congress) increased 28 percent over the last year.

Overall, online engagement was way up in the last year. There were a lot of issues to care about in 2011 -- workers rights (sparked in Wisconsin), clean air, marriage equality, the Keystone XL pipeline -- and Americans who wanted to be a part of it went online. As a result, we saw more online participation in nonprofit advocacy campaigns than ever before.

So how does your nonprofit compare to those in our survey? Are you seeing the same levels of growth? If not, don't panic. There was disparity among the organizations we surveyed as well. But this is a good opportunity to go back to the drawing board and have a discussion about which benchmark or two your team wants to improve upon and what you can do to beat the averages by the time the 2013 report comes out next year.

Some generally effective tactics your organization may decide to dedicate resources to in the next year include:

  • Shifting your fundraising email appeals so your donors are the hero;
  • Developing a more thoughtful social media strategy;
  • Optimizing your emails for easy reading on mobile devices.

Good luck reaching your new customized benchmarks!

To read the full study, please visit:

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