Entries in Nonprofit Benchmark Studies (33)


Digital Adoption Survey Aims to Learn More About the Digital Divide 

How do online services and Internet access help you and your team deliver services and programs, and connect you with the people you serve? A new Digital Adoption Survey  explores how organizations keep staff connected, from offices to virtual teams, as well as how the Internet factors into program or service delivery.

NTEN and Mobile Citizen are teaming up for this survey to better understand online technology and digital inclusion among nonprofits and the communities nonprofits serve. Throughout this digital adoption survey, we define digital divide as any barrier that prevents people from being able to access technology.

With this survey, NTEN and Mobile Citizen also seek to better understand how your organization’s communities influence the technological decisions your staff and board make. We hope this research provides an initial benchmark that we can all learn from and build on together.

Data from the survey will be shared in multiple formats this Spring,including a full report, webinars, and case studies. Better understanding the tools and needs of nonprofit staff and the community will also help develop resources, educational programs, and other content in the near future. But to get this information, they need your help.

We're calling on all nonprofits to take this short and important survey. All survey participants can enter a drawing for a $500 Amazon Gift Card! The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. Your answers will remain anonymous and will be reported in aggregate only.

Study: Nonprofits Score an "F" in Online Fundraising Scorecard

Dunham and Company released an Online Fundraising Scorecard that looked at 151 nonprofits online fundraising activities. The report either gave a big "F" or a mediocre rating to most of the nonprofits in the report. Out of 151 nonprofits, only 24 of them scored 76% or above. 

The study looked at the flow of donation pages on each of the nonprofits websites as well as email appeals, follow up emails, etc. Here are some of the key findings. 

  • 65% required users to go through three or more pages to actually donate. Forcing users to go through multiple steps is one of the fastest ways to lose donors. 
  • 84% of donation pages were not opimized for mobile, which made it hard for mobile users to complete a donation. 
  • 63% offered no action opportunities on their thank you page or emails.
  • 37% of organizations did not engage in any communications with new subscribers within the first 30 days. How welcoming!
  • 79% did not personalize emails with with a name like "Hi Allyson."

The report is troubling because the nonprofit community has been doing online fundraising for years and there are established best practices for optimizing conversions. Here are some tips that I'm re-sharing from another Frogloop blog post from 2010 that are still the gold standard. 

Eight Online Fundraising Strategies You Can Do Right Now

1. Create Killer Landing Pages

Tell people what you want them to do quickly. Be clear how their donation will make a difference. One tactic that has been successful for the nonprofit CARE is to provide their donors with two simple pie charts that illustrate how funds raised are allocated below the credit card donation form.

Also give people several options to contribute money – one time giving, monthly giving, etc.

2. Welcome People
Many organizations have a welcome series to introduce new donors to their email list. This is a great strategy that your organization should consider adapting. If your nonprofits, does not have time to do this right now, just be sure you send them at least one email welcoming them to your community and the different ways that they can get involved. Try to communicate with your list at the very least once a month.  

3. Cut The Wonk
You nonprofit will raise more money by telling compelling stories that resonate with real people. Donors are human beings (not ATM machines) and they need to feel connected to your organization and to your story. Save your press releases for the media, and your “talking points” for policy makers.

4. Build A Great List
You need invested people on your list to fundraise. There are two main ways nonprofits can build lists:

  • Organic Cultivation: via your own website, events, social networking sites, direct mail, etc.

  • Paid Acquisition: Online acquisition (like Care2) Google Ad Words, email appends, chaperoned emails, etc.

5. Cross Promote

The best way to reach your donors is to connect with them wherever they are – which means everywhere. Make sure you cross promote your fundraising campaigns across multiple channels such as your website, email appeals, social networks, direct mail, telemarketing, etc. Also be sure that the content is edited for each channel since each one has its own unique tone and voice.

6. Segment
As I mentioned in Five Fundraising Tips to Add to your Checklist, querying and segmenting your online membership may not be a ton of fun, but it’s vital to the success of your online fundraising program. You need this information to tailor appeals to different segments of your list. Why would you send members of your list who have never donated to your organization the same exact appeal to members who have donated $250 3x in the past 12 months? These two audiences are connected to your nonprofit very differently and therefore should receive different appeals that match their level of engagement.

7. Close The Loop
Don’t forget to thank your donors and tell them if you met your goals. This simple strategy has proven to help build better relationships with donors. Also make sure you include any compelling stories, successes, or photos so donors feel that their donation made a difference.

8. Measure The Results
There are myriad amounts of ways your nonprofit can measure the success of your online fundraising campaigns. Here are a few key ones:

  • Open Rates: What percentage of people opened up an online fundraising appeal.
  • Unique Web Visits: How many unique visits to the landing page.
  • Conversions: What percentage of people who clicked on the donate link, donated money.
  • Click-Through Rates: How many people clicked on a donation link.

Is Your Nonprofit Spending Enough Money On Digital?

Is your nonprofit investing the right amount of money, resources, and strategy into digital? Probably not. Heck, even the NYT admitted in a leaked report that they are struggling with their digital strategy.

To help get your organization thinking about this investment, check out the key findings from the Charity Dynamics' report: How Today's Nonprofits Approach Digital Spending and Why It Matters to You. The goal of the report was to determine how nonprofits are approaching digital investment. 332 individuals responded.

What does anticipated growth look like?

  • Respondents almost unanimously reported that they're seeing enough return to further their investments.
  • 55% expect their budgets to grow in 2014, while 42% expect them to remain static.
  • Only 3% are anticipating a decrease.

What are nonprofit's highest investment priorities?

  • Donation/E-Commerce ranked as the highest priority at 51%.
  • Constituent Engagement and Social Media are the main priorities for 47% of respondents.
  • Respondents from large organizations are paying more attention to mobile, as 29% reported mobile as a high priority investment area.

There's a connection between donations and e-commerce as the the highest priority investment (51%) and an updated website as the most desired addition (34%) for 2014. The more user-friendly and intuitive your website, the more likely people are to engage with your e-commerce.

The report said that "mobile is perhaps the area that would most enhance the top investment areas." This is not to be confused with text messaging and fundraising as most nonprofits have not had a lot of success in the US with this type of fundraising. Remember for fundraising direct mail and email still rules. Mobile and email are inherently connected now though, as more than 50% of emails are read on mobile devices and about 30-50% of web traffic is mobile. It's important to make sure that your nonprofit has a website that's responsive including action and donation pages.

What are your investment goals and wish list items for 2014? And are you using any tools to help you achieve those goals?



Charitable Giving Report Shows Online Donations Increased by 13.5%

This just in! The latest 2013 Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud analyzed data from more than 4,000 nonprofits to provide the largest analysis in online giving data. According to the report, overall giving grew 4.9% in 2013 compared to 2012.

Even more impressive than overall giving is the 13.5% increase in online giving. Online giving accounted for 6.4% of all charitable giving in 2013. Large organizations fared better from overall giving while small orgs benefitted the most from online giving.

Speaking of online giving, #GivingTuesday made huge strides last year. Online giving on #GivingTuesday in 2013 was up 90%, compared to 2012. The average online gift on Tuesday, December 3, was $142.05, a $40.45 increase from 2012.

Which Sectors are Raising the Most?

"This is the second consecutive year that online giving has experienced double-digit growth rates. Six of the nine sectors in the analysis had year-over-year growth over 10%, with faith-based organizations having the largest increase." International affairs organizations had the greatest increase in overall charitable giving in 2013 (13.2%).

Which Months See the Most Overall Giving?

You may not be surprised to find out that the most overall giving occurs during the last three months of the year. Those are the months that organizations push their year-end giving, host challenges, and release their annual reports. More than one-third of all giving done in 2013 was done between October, November, and December. Both overall giving and online giving reached its absolute highest in December.

The slowest month for overall giving was February, bringing in just 5.8% of 2013's overall gifts. Perhaps the Hallmark Holiday is sucking people in, and they're spending too much on chocolates and candies.

The slowest month for online giving was January, the first month of 2013, the good news is that there was an incline throughout the rest of the year.

What trends did your nonprofit notice in 2013? Did you receive more online donations than you have in previous years?


Infographic: How Foundations Use Social Media

While the majority of nonprofit organizations have a social media presence, only 45% of foundations use social media. The Foundation Center surveyed over 1,000 foundations across the U.S. to dig deeper into what’s trending with foundations and social media. My firm Rad Campaign had an opportunity to dig into the survey data and team up with the Foundation Center to produce an infographic that reveals some interesting trends. Check out the highlights below.

Which Types Of Foundations Are Using Social Media?

  • 88% of community foundations
  • 55% of corporate foundations
  • 34% of family and independent foundations

What Social Media Channels Are Foundations Using?

Foundations that use social media prefer these channels:

  • 65% use Facebook
  • 40% use Twitter
  • 32% use YouTube

71% of Foundations Have No Formal Social Media Strategy

Yes, you read that right – very few foundations have actually taken the time to develop a formal social media strategy. I found this statistic quite surprising and alarming because foundations are increasingly requiring grantees to use social media to raise awareness about their nonprofit organization and foster community. But how can foundations properly evaluate nonprofit’s social media usage, if the majority of foundations aren’t using social media themselves or don’t have a formal social media strategy?

Majority of Foundations Using Social Media Say It’s Useful

On a more positive note, 61% of the foundations using social media said that it’s been very useful or somewhat useful in furthering their work.  And 74% said that social media is useful in furthering philanthropy.

The infographic also highlights foundations that are using social media effectively, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Woods Charitable Fund.  Be sure and also check out the social media staffing survey data.

You can view the full infographic below or on Glasspockets.org.



A Look At Canadian Philanthropy Across Generations

Last week Blackbaud along with partners HJC, Sea Change Strategies, and Edge Research released findings from the 2013 Next Generation of Canadian Giving study.

The study looked at the following: 

  • What are the preferred giving channels for Generation Y (18-32); Generation X (33-48); Baby Boomers (49-67); and Civics (68+) ?
  • What are the preferred communications and engagement channels?
  • What kinds of charities do people support?

Eight Key Findings:

1. The majority of Canadians donate money to charity. Civics are the most generous generation. About 9 in 10 of Civics give, and they support a variety of causes than younger generations. However, it’s worth noting the this generation is dwindling and their income  is holding steady.

2. Baby Boomers will have great influence on charitable giving for the foreseeable future, but Generation X is quickly catching up. This is the generation to watch and cultivate now.

3. Most donors across all age groups do not plan to expand their giving in the coming year. This is not surprising given that many people across generations are still feeling the impact of a struggling economy.

4. While multichannel communications has become standard these days, your organizations needs to find the right mix when you target different generations. For example, direct mail is not dead. Generations Y and X prefer to give online, and as many Baby Boomers say they give online as via direct mail.

5. Generation Y donors have distinct priorities and preferences with regard to causes they support.  They demand accountability and transparency than older donors.

6. Among transaction channels, the future of telemarketing and giving by SMS/text does not look so great in Canada, but face-to-face and street funding is surprisingly strong.

7. Peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding appear to have promising futures as fundraising strategies for younger generations. Though you should note that this takes a lot of staff resources, planning, and time to raise significant money.

8. Nearly half of those who give engage with causes in ways other than making donations. Embrace it!


Now that you have seen the statistics around Canadian giving, how will you use this data? The report suggested that you think about the following questions:

1. Have you underinvested in fundraising to Gen X donors, who are a quickly rising force in philanthropic giving in Canada?

2. Have you completely ignored the up and coming younger generations, or relegated them to an un-strategic social media effort?

3. Does your fundraising channel mix include direct mail for younger donors and digital communications for older ones? 


Nonprofit Benchmark Study Shows Nonprofits Are Raising More Money

Last month we reported that online fundraising response rates declined 27% between 2011-2012, according to the eNonprofit Benchmark study. The latest Blackbaud Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofits that analyzed data from 500 organizations using the Luminate platform also indicated a steep decline in fundraising response rates. According to the report, response rates on appeals declined by more than 18%. “Declining response rates illustrate a saturated channel with undifferentiated messaging and campaigns, said the report. “This is present in direct mail, telemarketing, and face-to-face solicitation.”

The average online gift was $89.

While open rates were 14.72% (slightly up from the previous year), the average click rate on online fundraising appeals were .7%

Online Revenue and Advocacy Growth

On a more positive note, median online revenue grew by 11.6%. Online fundraising was driven primarily by recurring donors and repeat donors, which grew 27 percent and 20 percent, respectively. First time gifts grew 3%.

Advocacy saw an 8.7% increase in actions taken and 11.9% of advocates that also made a donation online. It’s worth noting that Jewish organizations experienced an increase of advocates by 23.6%, and environment and wildlife had an increase of 22.46%. This illustrates that that if cultivated properly advocates can also be converted to donors.

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