Nonprofit communicators want to know how they can measure their own success (we are working on a webinar to help with that). One way is to compare your work to industry benchmarks.

In the nonprofit world, there are several annual studies that give us a glimpse into what's happening in our sector, especially with online marketing and fundraising. One big caveat, however: the data in these reports are usually from what most Nonprofit Marketing Guide readers would consider to be HUGE organizations. Nevertheless, they are a great place to start the conversation.

It's a tradition for some of these reports to be released in time for the Nonprofit Technology Conference held by NTEN every year. Thus the updated versions of three reports are now available:

2012 Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study (Convio)

2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (M+R and NTEN)

2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report (NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud)

Let's take a look at some of the key points . . .

2012 Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study

Convio Online Benchmark Study

The 2012 Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study looks at online engagement across 700+ nonprofits using Convio's marketing/fundraising tools. This year's report found that

  • Online fundraising continues to grow robustly, at nearly 16% over last year. Good news for smaller orgs: Online giving is growing fastest for nonprofits with 10,000 or fewer email addresses at nearly 27%.
  • First time online gifts represented 37 percent of total median online revenue.
  • Sustainer (monthly giving) programs are growing very strongly, with the average monthly gift as $31.96.
  • The average online gift size is $93.67. The average gift size for organizations with email lists under 25,000 is even higher ($105 - $115).
  • Advocacy continues to play key role in online engagement. Ask people on your list to do more than just give money, and that helps with fundraising! The cross-over between fundraising and advocacy continues to increase.
  • The median growth rate for email lists was 17%.
  • Smaller nonprofits are seeing bigger increases in website traffic, but larger organizations are better at converting that traffic to email subscribers.
  • Total online revenue correlates closely with email list size. The more people you can ask, the more money you will raise. But remember, in terms of growth trends, online fundraising by organizations with smaller lists is growing fastest.

2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study looks at data from 44 large U.S.-based national nonprofits, all of whom are identified in the report's methodology (you'll recognize nearly all the names). Where the Convio report includes smaller nonprofits, this report doesn't, so it's interesting to see where the findings are similar and where they diverge.

eNonprofit Benchmarks Study(Here's the infographic)

  • This study reports even better growth in overall online fundraising, with an average increase of 19% from 2010 to 2011. This growth was driven almost entirely by a 20% increase in the number of gifts (average gifts held steady).
  • How well do people respond to nonprofit email? The report found the  2011 fundraising response rates flat at 0.08%, while the advocacy response rate increased 3.8% (up 28% from 2010). Study participants send 3-5 emails per month.
  • Typical email list growth was 16% (very close to the 17% in the Convio report).
  • Annual email list churn was 19% -- that's the number of email addresses that go bad for whatever reason each year. The average unsubscribe rate from a single email was 0.19%.
  • While one-time gifts remained the largest source of online revenue for study participants, online revenue from monthly giving is growing at a much faster rate.
  • 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.
  • This report shows a smaller average online gifts that the Convio report, with $62 as the average one-time gift and $20 as the average monthly gift.
  • The average nonprofit Facebook fan page had 31,473 users, defined as people who “Like” a fan page.
  • Nonprofit Facebook fan bases have seen phenomenal growth between 2010 and 2011, with the average nonprofit increasing its fan base by 70%.
  • Need to put your various list sizes in perspective? For every 1,000 members of an email list, the average nonprofit had 103 Facebook fans, 29 Twitter followers and 12 mobile subscribers.

Check out the last page of the PDF of the report for a great summary of how email response rates vary between advocacy, fundraising, and newsletter emails.


2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report

Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark ReportThe 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report was released at last week's conference by Blackbaud, NTEN and Common Knowledge. The 4th annual report, featuring survey results from more than 3,500 respondents, provides an extensive look at how nonprofits of all sizes are using social media, highlights key trends, and provides insights for the year ahead. A few key findings:

  • 98% of participants have a Facebook page with an average community size of over 8,000 fans (compared to the 30,000+ reported by the larger orgs in the M+R study).
  • Average Facebook and Twitter communities grew by 30% and 81%, respectively.
  • On average, respondents have 2.1 official Facebook pages and 1.2 official Twitter accounts
  • 73% allocate half of a full time employee to managing social networking activities.
  • Nonprofits say they spend an average of $3.50 to acquire a Facebook fan, and $2.05 per new Twitter follower
  • 43% budget $0 for their social networking activities.
  • Respondents also reported using Facebook advertising primarily for non-fundraising purposes; only 24% report using Facebook advertising for fundraising.
  • Average value of a Facebook Like is $214.81 over 12 months following acquisition.
  • The top 3 factors for success are strategy, prioritization, and dedicated staff.


Whew! That's a lot of data!

We'll continue to review these and other reports and share the best of them with you in a series of upcoming blog posts on metrics organized by category. We'll look at email, Facebook, online fundraising, etc. separately so you can make better sense of the data and compare it to your own.