Nonprofits' Online Revenue Up 13 Percent in 2014, Study Finds

Nonprofit online revenue grew at a median rate of 13 percent in 2014, down slightly from its 14 percent growth rate in 2013, a report from M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network finds.

Based on data from eight-four charities in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, the 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study (60 pages, PDF) found that the increase in online fundraising revenue was driven in part by a 13 percent increase in the number of online donations, even though the average donation size fell 2 percent. Health (25 percent), human rights (24 percent), and environmental (23 percent) organizations registered the largest median gains in online revenue, while international aid groups – which saw sharp increases in online revenue in 2013 in response to Typhoon Haiyan — registered an 18 percent drop in revenue and 7 percent fewer gifts. Included in the survey for the first time, cultural groups and hunger and poverty organizations registered increases of 12 percent and 10 percent in online revenue and gains of 16 percent and 13 percent in the number of gifts.

According to the survey, online revenue from monthly giving surged some 32 percent in 2014 — following a 25 percent increase in 2013 — compared with 9 percent for one-time gifts. The study also found that respondents' e-mail lists grew at a median rate of 11 percent, down from 14 percent in 2013, and that open rates rose 4 percent overall to an average 14 percent, with slightly higher rates for advocacy messages than for fundraising messages. Click-through rates for fundraising e-mails also were up slightly, at 0.48 percent, while click-through rates for advocacy emails, at 3.3 percent, were down some 12 percent; response rates for both types of messages fell in 2014.

The study also found that while nonprofits' social media audiences continued to be smaller than their e-mail lists, the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers grew some 42 percent and 37 percent in 2014, while website traffic increased 11 percent.

"2015 M+R Benchmarks Study." M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network Report 04/27/2015.