Nonprofits' Online Revenue Up 14 Percent in 2013, Study Finds

Nonprofit online revenue grew at a median rate of 14 percent in 2013, while response rates to e-mail appeals fell 11 percent, a new report from M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network finds.

Based on data from fifty-three U.S. charities, the 2014 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (56 pages, PDF) found that both the number of online gifts and total revenue increased on a year-over-year basis for environmental, international aid, and wildlife and animal welfare organizations but remained largely unchanged for human rights groups. The report also found that while the average size of an online gift rose some 2 percent overall, only international aid groups actually saw the size of their average gift increase — driven in part by support for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.

According to the survey, e-mail lists at the organizations surveyed grew at a median rate of 14 percent in 2013, though a continuing drop in open and click-through rates pushed response rates down 11 percent on a year-over-year basis. In addition, the survey found that median revenue per fundraising e-mail delivered in 2013 was 1.7 cents. Nevertheless, e-mail continued to account for one-third of nonprofit online revenue in 2013, even as the growth of organizations' social media channels far outpaced the growth of their e-mail lists and Web site traffic.

"The big picture for nonprofits online in 2013 is that organizations reached more people last year through emails, their own Web sites, and social media," Sarah DiJulio, principal at M+R Strategic Services, told the NonProfit Times. "It's the little picture that nonprofits should be looking at when they assess how their online program is doing and what 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."

"2014 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study." M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network Report 04/09/2014. Mark Hrywna. "Study: Each Email Delivered Worth 1.7 Cents." NonProfit Times 04/08/2014.