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Even though response rates for nonprofit emails continued to slide in 2013, online giving was up as email and social media audiences and web traffic kept climbing, according to a new comprehensive study released today of 53 of the country’s leading nonprofits including: UNICEF, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, AARP, Feeding America and the Human Rights Campaign.  

 Now in its eighth year, the 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study, cosponsored by NTEN, analyzes the data that matters most to nonprofit online programs. The goal of the Study is to set benchmarks that help nonprofits measure their online performance, track progress, and guide strategy with an eye toward more effective fundraising and advocacy.

 Here are 8 big trends that emerged from the nonprofits we surveyed:

1.       The average one-time online donation amount to a nonprofit was $68 in 2013.

2.       Nonprofit organization email lists grew significantly – up 14% in 2013.

3.       Online donations were higher than ever before. Online giving was up 14% in 2013, with monthly giving revenue up 25% compared to 2012. Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online revenue.

4.       Nonprofits received $17 for every 1,000 email messages delivered. Overall, email accounted for about one-third of nonprofits’ online fundraising revenue.

5.       Nonprofits received $0.60 per website visitor.

6.       Key email metrics, including open rates and response rates, declined in 2013. Email open rates were down 4%. Response rates were down in 2013 for both fundraising emails (down 11%) and advocacy emails (down 25%) compared to 2012 levels. Interestingly, the response rates to advocacy emails from Environmental nonprofits were more than two times higher than overall response rates for advocacy emails.

7.       More people visited nonprofit websites. Monthly website traffic for the nonprofits in the study was up 16% in 2013.

8.       Nonprofit social media audiences grew faster than nonprofit email or website audiences. Facebook fans were up 37% and Twitter followers were up 46% in 2013. Despite this rapid growth, for every 1,000 email subscribers nonprofits had just 199 Facebook fans and 110 Twitter followers. 

 “The big picture for nonprofits online in 2013 is that organizations reached more people last year through emails, their own websites, and social media,” said Sarah DiJulio, Principal at M+R Strategic Services. “It’s the little picture that nonprofits should be looking at when they assess how their online program is doing and what they can be done better in 2014. How your experience tracks with the benchmarks will help you ask the right questions to strengthen your program, whether that means adjusting your fundraising strategy or pursuing a new approach to advocacy. In this year’s Benchmarks Study, we zoomed in on the data points we think will be the most useful for nonprofits as they strive to make a mark on their cause and our world.”
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