Does Size Matter?

Does the size of your organization affect which communications tools you’ll use? Turns out, not that much, according to our 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.

The order of importance of the most popular communications tools doesn’t vary significantly based on budget size, with a few minor exceptions. When looking at the “very” important rankings by nonprofits with budgets over $1 million, you’ll see that “mobile apps or texting” ranks higher than paid advertising, phone calls/phone banks and photo sharing.

Most Important Nonprofit Communications Tools in 2013 - By Budget Size

The biggest differences come in just how important smaller versus larger organizations say the tools are.

Nonprofits with organizational budgets under $1 million:

  • Less likely to have written marketing plans in place than larger organizations
  • More likely than larger organizations to focus on participant and volunteer acquisition
  • More likely to rank email marketing and in-person events as very important compared to larger organizations
  • More likely to say they will spend more time producing event marketing and presentations to be delivered in person than larger organizations

Nonprofits with organizational budgets over $1 million

  • More likely to have written marketing plans in place, especially in organizations with budgets over $5 million
  • More likely than smaller organizations to focus on donor acquisition and retention
  • More likely to rank websites, media relations/PR and print marketing as more important compared to smaller organizations
  • More likely to say they will spend more time on website articles, press releases, and annual reports than smaller organizations

Download the 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report Now.

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  • Nancy Schwartz

    No direct mail here?

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  • Kivi Leroux Miller

    Direct mail is lumped under Print Marketing

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Huge lump! Would you consider breaking it out next year?

  • Frank C. Dickerson

    In light of the way donors are giving (still mainly via direct mail, according to a Blackbaud Target Analytics Group study), shouldn’t this histogram sound an alarm? One way to interpret this trend is to conclude that nonprofit leaders who consider electronic channels their most important tools are more naive and hopeful than informed and pragmatic. Blackbaud’s study (2011) analyzed the channels by which 15.6 million donors gave $1.16 billion in 2010.

    Their sample was comprised of “tech savvy” organizations” . . . nonprofits that are among most effective at leveraging new media and e-fundraising to build income. Yet among these organizations, giving my mail was still at 79%. The report added that for less-tech-savvy organizations, giving by direct mail was 80%-plus.

    On this, their fifth year measuring such trends, the study’s authors concluded:

    “Five years in, it is clear that direct mail giving is still the overwhelming majority of fundraising revenue. Organizations must . . . optimize multi-channel giving versus hyper-focusing on Internet giving alone.” This finding raises a serious question for thought leaders. We not only need to describe what people prefer but also what they need–e.g. a multi-channel program that includes a blend of media.”

    Maya Gasuk, who led Cornell University’s annual giving efforts for ten years, put it this way when interviewed by Philanthropy Journal:

    “People can get easily distracted by shiny objects like facebook and other social-media tools. There’s a tendency to think the next new thing will solve all of our problems. But at the end of the day it’s all about a conversation with donors. We need to continue to invest in the core of the business first and foremost and not get distracted by iPhone apps and facebook pages. Holding that same standard of accountability in the era of the novel is really important. The core of what we do is relationship building and asking. Someday social media will complement that. But right now, I don’t think the answer to participation decreases is facebook, for example. It’s more important to look at your operations and figure out where things are disconnected.”

  • Kivi Leroux Miller

    It’s important to remember that this is a survey of nonprofit communications people, not all of whom are responsible for fundraising. It’s a big mistake to assume they are.