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Online nonprofit fundraising is on the rise, with explosive growth in sustaining gifts and a larger audience of supporters reached through social media networks like Facebook, according to a new comprehensive analysis released today of 55 of the country's leading nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, Sierra Club, American Lung Association, AARP and Human Rights Campaign. While the growth of online fundraising is expected to remain robust, the report also cites the long-term decline of response rates as a top priority for nonprofits evaluating their email performance in an increasingly crowded inbox.

Key findings of the nonprofits surveyed, include:

● A 21 percent increase in online revenue overall from 2011, with only International groups seeing a decline in online giving.

● A sharp decline in certain key email metrics – such as a 14 percent decline in click-through rates for advocacy messages and 27 percent decline for fundraising messages. This trend was driven mostly by the decline in click-through rates among Rights and International groups. Advocacy messages sent on behalf of Environmental groups performed best.

● Since 2011, online monthly giving grew by 43 percent – more than twice as fast as one-time giving. Although still a small percentage of overall giving, sustaining gifts now account for 18 percent of revenue for International groups.

● Email list sizes continue to grow for all sectors and sizes, up 15 percent in 2012. This trend was greatest for Wildlife and Animal Welfare groups, which grew their email lists by 32 percent from 2011.

● The growth of social media audiences outpaced email lists in 2012, growing an average of 46 percent on Facebook and 264 percent on Twitter. However, Facebook continues to be king for connecting with supporters on social media, reaching 149 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers.

"Nonprofits are continuing to adapt to the needs of their supporters, connecting with more people in more ways than ever before," said Sarah DiJulio, Principal at M+R Strategic Services. "Just as their issues have evolved, nonprofits are increasingly embracing new and innovative technologies of email, social media and mobile platforms to bring the message to the masses."

The 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, conducted by M+R Strategic Services and NTEN, examines data from 55 nonprofits in sectors ranging from rights to environmental issues. The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study is an industry-leading report that examines fundraising response rates, average gift amounts, advocacy response rates, and e-mail click-through rates, among other factors, to set benchmarks by which nonprofits can measure their online performance. This year's study – the seventh Benchmarks report – analyzes 1.6 billion email messages sent to 45 million list subscribers, 7.3 million advocacy actions, and more than $438 million online donations from over 6.5 million online gifts collected throughout 2012.

"We've seen significant movement in the nonprofit sector over the last couple of years towards developing a 'data-informed' culture among organizations," said Annaliese Hoehling, Publications Director of NTEN. "This report, which is a perennial favorite among the nonprofit technology community, is helping organizations nurture that culture. Not only does it provide data that communications, marketing, and fundraising staff can use to assess and plan their online campaigns each year, but it also models for all nonprofit staff how they can examine their own data more effectively. In an age when we're struggling as nonprofits to make sense of all the data we and our communities are generating, these benchmarks provide a kind of key or navigation guide to help us get our bearings."

To read the full study, please visit: Like or follow M+R to be the first to know about future studies and activity in the world of nonprofit fundraising and advocacy.

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