On Wednesday, I shared how nonprofits are using social media according to reports released over the last few weeks. Today, we are going to take a look at email marketing and fundraising using data from these reports:

Sage Nonprofit Solutions Email Marketing Report 2012 (Sage)

2012 Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study (Convio)

2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (M+R and NTEN)

(Percentages given are the percentage of respondents of the individual reports.)

Email Lists

  • The Convio study has median growth rate for email lists at 17% while M+R has it only slightly lower at 16%.
  • Annual email list churn, the number of email addresses that go bad, was 19%. (M+R)
  • The average unsubscribe rate from a single email was 0.19%. (M+R)
  • Top tactics for growing the email list were website registration (62%), newsletter registration (60%), and email to a friend (55%). (Sage)
  • Smaller nonprofits are seeing bigger increases in website traffic, but larger organizations are better at converting that traffic to email subscribers. (Convio)
  • A large number of organizations are taking measures to improve email deliverability by removing hard bounces (49%), followed by regular data cleansing (44%) and removing inactive contacts (38%). (Sage)

Email Goals and Results

  • Top email marketing objectives were: keeping supporters informed (80%), attracting and retaining donors (64%), and driving online donations (61%). (Sage)
  • A large percentage of respondents (91%) indicated that they have measurable goals in place. (Sage)
  • Almost half of the surveyed respondents (45%) indicated that their organization did not conduct any email marketing. (Sage)
  • 2011 fundraising response rates flat at 0.08%, while the advocacy response rate increased 3.8% (up 28% from 2010).  (M+R)
  • Study participants (and these were all big national organizations) send 3-5 emails per month. (M+R)
  • Events (galas, auctions) and year-end campaigns were selected as the top campaigns/appeals that respondents promote by email.  (Sage)
  • Total online revenue correlates closely with email list size. The more people you can ask, the more money you will raise. But, in terms of growth trends, online fundraising by organizations with smaller lists is growing fastest. (Convio)
  • On average, 35% of online revenue can be sourced to a direct email appeal, with the rest coming from other sources, like directly pulling up a website or peer referral. (M+R)

Email Evaluation

Sage asked how nonprofits were measuring the results of their email marketing. Here are some key findings in that area:

  • Over three-quarters of the organizations (76%) track click-through rates; other email performance metrics tracked were open rates (73%) and total contacts (69%).
  • Over half the respondents selected subject line as one of the top campaign elements they test and optimize.
  • 43% of respondents indicated that they evaluate email performance once a month.

Email Marketing Challenges

Sage also looked at the common problems organizations have with email campaigns. Here are the top challenges:

  • Growing and retaining contacts
  • Integrating email and other channels (social media, blogs, direct mail)
  • Integrating email with donor database, online fundraising, and other systems
  • Inadequate resources and expertise


We’ll do one more stat/trend summary for you on online fundraising soon!

Published On: April 19, 2012|Categories: Email Marketing, Fundraising, Nonprofit Marketing Trends|