Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index™ Study
I love this line from the introductory paragraph of Convio’s study: “Your success online is not solely measured by how much you raise, but how effectively you are able to grow your audience while sustaining and deepening their interest.”
This year’s study uses data from nearly 600 nonprofit organizations that used the Convio Online Marketing platform in 2009 and 2010; that collectively raised $1.15 billion in 2010; and that have over 171 million email addresses. Important highlights:
Online giving is growing – both in the number of gifts and average gifts – and fundraising appeals are growing in effectiveness. Haiti relief contributed to this growth significantly.
- Most organizations (79%) realized growth in online revenue. Most saw 20-28% growth over 2009.
- It’s important to note that these metrics don’t factor in gifts made offline by online-acquired constituents/donors. Our own Avalon Analytics have found great value in crossover donors and know that as many as 60% of donors will give through multiple channels; therefore revenue from other channels should be looked at holistically when assessing the true donor value of online-acquired donors.
Advocacy actions are also increasing – as are donations tied to advocacy.
- In addition to the volume of actions taken increasing, 6.42% of online activists also supported organizations with online donations – an increase over 5.97% in 2009. Conversion of activists has grown, but there is still plenty of potential for growth in this area.
Email files are growing steadily.
- Larger nonprofits with larger constituencies have been active online the longest and are able to convert high web traffic. Also of note is that these organizations have invested in paid email acquisition strategies to grow their files and, over time, have been able to grow files that are 14 times larger than the industry average. What does this mean? Larger list growth is reliant upon paid acquisition in addition to efforts to organically acquire names.
- The percentage of usable email files averages at 54% – meaning approximately 1 of every 2 constituents are being reached/engaged.
Web traffic is growing, but at a slower rate. Conversion of website visitors is on the decline compared to last year.
- Flat/slowing web traffic growth can be attributed to organizations delivering more frequent and compelling content to supporters’ inboxes as well as increased engagement via social networking sites. However, according to Convio, the most successful online fundraising programs have effectively driven traffic to their websites to ultimately convert them into registered constituents; therefore, we will be keeping a close eye on web traffic growth figures.
- Conversion rates (converting site visitors into registered constituents) remained fairly flat: 2.2% in 2009 compared to 2.0% in 2010, still way below the 3-3.5% from 2008. This suggests that visitors need more compelling content/incentives as motivation to provide their email addresses – and is another metric that needs to be closely watched.
Open rates for fundraising appeals and newsletters are both down from last year.
- Open rates for appeals are averaging 18% in 2010 (continuing the trend of slight decreases each year) and click through rates remained flat at 1.7%. Response rates are at 1.6% (a blended response rate that aggregates messages sent to both donors and prospects). eNewsletter open rates are at 19% (down from 20%) and click through rates dipped from 3.3% in 2009 to 3.06% in 2010 (yet still nearly double that of fundraising appeals).
Blackbaud 2010 Online Giving Report
Blackbaud’s online giving report includes 24 months of online giving data from 1,812 nonprofit organizations from The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving, online major giving data from 2,190 nonprofits, and both online and offline data representing $5.1 billion in total fundraising from 1,438 nonprofits.
Important highlights to follow, but it’s worth checking out the report since it includes a tool on how to use the benchmarks to evaluate your own organization (page 8)… and ultimately use the “best practices demonstrated by organizations that are outperforming your peer group.”
- Online giving saw 34.5% growth – again, driven largely by donations for Haiti in January. For other (non-disaster related) nonprofits, the year-end timeframe was still the largest, raising an average 31% of total online revenue for the year.
- 88% of organizations in the study realized at least one gift of $1000+. This is significant in that it proves major donors are giving online. This is not surprising – several Avalon clients have implemented successful online campaigns that have included major donors. So, yes – major donors are giving online!
- Next to international groups, the Human Services and Environment & Animals sectors realized the largest year-over-year increase in online giving.
- The percentage of online giving as part of an organization’s total fundraising averaged 7.6%.
2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R and NTEN
This year’s eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R and NTEN includes data collected from 40 nonprofit organizations. Important to note is that a new sector has been added to the analysis: Wildlife/Animal Welfare organizations.
Highlights are below – but this one is also worth checking out for some great tables and charts throughout the report.
- Overall online revenue grew by 14% (led by spikes from the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods), but all sectors saw growth due to an increase in the number of online gifts (similar to Convio findings). Non-international groups saw about a 10% increase from 2009-2010, similar to 2008-2009 increases, though lower than the 2006-2008 increases seen before the recession.
- Email fundraising page completion rates are at 19%. Fundraising response rates are down 19% – and currently at .08%.
- 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.
- Advocacy response rates declined 7% on average with an 82% advocacy page completion rate.
- The average study participant sent 3.6 emails per subscriber per month, and sent 6 emails per subscriber in December.
Email List Size
- Annual list churn (the rate at which email addresses become unreachable in a year) stayed fairly flat at 18%, but was offset by list growth increasing by 21%.
- Email unsubscribe rates held steady overall from 2009 to 2010. It is important to note that higher unsubscribe rates are often indicative of a highly responsive email file because both responding and unsubscribing indicate that people are opening and reading emails – so an organization with higher unsubscribe rates often also sees higher response rates.
- On average, an organization’s text messaging list size was 1.9% of its email list size with annual mobile list churn at 14%. However, it is important to note that only 10 of the 40 organizations in the study provided data about their text messaging program. While the median mobile list growth was 20%, the variability is dramatic and linked to the amount of effort invested in collecting mobile numbers, as well as the ability to leverage major media.
- On average nonprofit Facebook fan pages had 15,000 people “like” the page. Users grew an average of 14% per month. The Wildlife/Animal Welfare sector saw the most engaged Facebook communities (nearly twice the average).
- Almost all larger organizations in the study send direct mail to their online donors or prospects, while only about 80% of medium groups and 38% of small groups mail. Of those organizations that have telemarketing programs, approximately 75% of them include online donors in their calls. We can’t stress the Avalon mantra of integrated fundraising enough … especially since we know that online-only donors have a 20% lower retention rate than off-line only donors and multi-channel donors have two times the retention rate of off-line only donors. It’s critical to view your fundraising channels as a whole instead of isolated parts!