Here at Achieve, we tend to geek out a little bit when new reports come out on fundraising, especially when they are analyzing technology and giving. Who ever said that data can’t be fun? We were excited to see the M+R Benchmarks 2014 report that came out last week and wanted to share with you some of our big take aways.
Total email list growth for 2013 was 14%, of which small nonprofits were the highest growth rate at 26%. However, we also saw a 4% decline in open rates from 2012 to 2013. What does this mean for you? Keep focusing on building an engaged email base, because it’s not useful to your organization to have a giant database of people who do not open or read your emails. Think strategically about who you are targeting during email acquisition campaigns; gather emails from people who are passionate about your cause.
Churn rates dropped in 2013. What does “churn” mean? It is the percentage of emails that you lost at some point throughout the year (which can happen many different ways, such as opting out, changing email addresses, etc.). The other interesting twist in this part of the report is that we found a negative correlation between email volume and email unsubscribe rate. So sending more emails does not meal more unsubscribes – in fact, there may be less unsubscribes when you send more emails. Our theory? It could be that sending more emails builds trust among your constituents. It shows planning, professionalism, and dedication to your cause. So keep sending your constituents valuable information through email.
What about the real numbers? You undoubtedly want to know about donations. Online revenue increased by 14% in 2013 and the number of online gifts was also up 14%. Woohoo! We like to hear that. Guess what else? Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online donations in 2013 and is experiencing a much faster growth rate than one-time gifts. That’s also good news for you, because we know that you like sustainable revenue. Lastly, email accounted for about one-third of online gifts — also good news. What’s the catch? Website donation page conversation rates are still not great. We are seeing a 15% conversation rate on donation pages, which means only 15% of the people visiting that page are completing their transaction. Phew. That is heavy. What can you do? Improve your donation pages. Your donation page is arguably as important as your home page, but often gets the least amount of attention. Check out our donation page blog to start thinking about your donation page differently.
Snapshot background of this study: 53 nonprofits were studied in 2013, which includes 2.1 billion email messages, 5.6 million donations, and 7.5 million online actions. The topics analyzed were email, online fundraising, advocacy, engagement, websites, and social media. Feel free to download the full report here.