Nonprofits Boosting Use of Digital Fundraising, Advocacy, Study Finds

Nonprofits Boosting Use of Digital Fundraising, Advocacy, Study Finds

Nonprofit online revenue increased 23 percent in 2017, after 15 percent growth in 2016, while nonprofits are reaching more people through digital channels than ever before, an analysis by communications agency M+R Strategic Services finds.

Based on data from a hundred and fifty-four nonprofits, the 2018 M+R Benchmarks Study (118 pages, PDF) found that 38 percent of donors who made an online gift in 2016 made one again to the same organization in 2017. The analysis also found that email use is still growing among nonprofits, with organizations adding more supporters to their email lists (an increase of 11 percent), sending more email (up 9 percent), and raising more money (up 24 percent) via email in 2017 than they did in 2016; that nonprofits are spending more money than ever on social media advertising; and that the share of online giving from mobile users in 2017 increased 50 percent on a year-over-year basis.

In addition, the analysis found that environmental and human rights organizations registered the biggest increase in advocacy emails during 2017, and that environmental nonprofits' email subscribers took action at higher levels than email subscribers in any other interest area, with 29 percent of environmental email subscribers saying they took an advocacy action at least once during 2017, compared to 21 percent of email subscribers overall. The analysis also found that nonprofits in the human rights area sent the highest volume of advocacy email — some thirty-two emails per subscriber over the twelve-month period, nearly twice as many as the average of seventeen for the sector overall.

"You can expect that a substantial majority of your first-time donors this year, the ones you worked so hard to acquire, will not return to make a second gift next year," said Will Valverde, M+R vice president and lead author of the study. "But those who do, those who renew their commitment to your cause, are more likely to come back again and again. These dedicated donors are the backbone of your fundraising program, the reliable revenue your nonprofit needs to develop long-term sustainable growth."