Nonprofits' Online Revenue Increased 19 Percent in 2015, Study Finds

Nonprofits' Online Revenue Increased 19 Percent in 2015, Study Finds

Nonprofit online revenue grew at a median rate of 19 percent in 2015 — up from 13 percent in 2013 — with revenue from e-mails up 25 percent, a report from M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network finds.

Now in its tenth year, the 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study (67 pages, PDF or HTML) analyzed data from a hundred and five nonprofits and found that the total number of online donations rose 21 percent in 2015. In terms of issue areas, human rights (35 percent) and international affairs/development (33 percent) saw the largest median gains in online revenue, while education (-3 percent) saw the biggest decline. In addition, monthly gifts — which accounted for 17 percent of online revenue — grew at a median rate of 24 percent, compared with 18 percent for one-time gifts, while one-time donations for international aid jumped 47 percent, possibly in response to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

According to the survey, e-mail lists grew at a median rate of 14 percent in 2015, down slightly from 16 percent in 2014, while overall open rates fell 5 percent, to 16 percent. For fundraising e-mails, open rates (14 percent) and click-through rates (0.43 percent) were down 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, with response rates down 8 percent, to 0.06 percent. Advocacy messages fared even worse, with open rates (15 percent) and click-through rates (3 percent) down 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, and response rates down 11 percent, to 2.1 percent. The study also found that the median number of messages sent to e-mail subscribers in 2015 was forty-nine, nineteen of which were fundraising appeals.

According to the report, 13 percent of all online gifts were made from mobile devices, which likely reflects user preference as well as the increased adoption of mobile optimization best practices by nonprofits. And while nonprofits' social media audiences remained smaller than their e-mail lists, the number of Facebook fans (up 29 percent) and Twitter followers (up 25 percent) grew, while website traffic increased some 8 percent.

"2016 M+R Benchmarks Study." M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network Report 04/20/2016.