June 22, 2017
 
Studies Point to Actions, Concerns for Fundraising

May 29, 2017 — As they approach the midpoint of the calendar year, Massachusetts nonprofits may want to take stock of their online fundraising results so far, and if they have not yet ramped up their use of email, they should give it serious thought, based on results of a recently completed analysis.

According to a benchmarks study conducted by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network, 34% of all online revenue can be tracked directly to an email appeal for the top 25 out of 105 organizations studied in terms of year-over-year growth in total dollars raised online.

In fact, top groups have seen increases in email revenue as a portion of their overall fundraising mix over the last two years. In addition:
  • The Top 25 revenue growers averaged 27 fundraising appeals per subscriber over a year. Everyone else averaged 16.

  • Top 25 groups invested $0.12 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online in 2015, which compares to $0.02 for everyone else.
"The truth is, top nonprofits are not the X-Men, they don’t have superpowers. They aren’t defying gravity to achieve dramatically higher email response rates; they are diligently sending more fundraising appeals. They aren’t reaching new audiences telepathically; they are investing more in paid advertising," the report noted.

The findings dovetail another study of nearly 1,000 nonprofits, released this month by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC), which found that 57% of the organizations that raise funds via email experienced an increase in 2016in email-generated funds, down from 70% the year before.

In fact, all eight sources of funds, including email, experienced lower growth in 2016 compared to 2015. That included board giving, major gifts, corporate contributions, allocations from federated campaigns, gifts from congregations, telephone, and SMS/text.

Despite those results, two-thirds of U.S.-based respondents projected increased fundraising receipts in 2017, the NRC study found. Specifically:
  • 46% expressed concerns about economic and political change that might affect charitable giving.

  • 34% expressed concern about organization-level activity, such as leadership, marketing, and staffing.

  • The remaining (20% noted challenges in fundraising processes, whether building major gifts capacity, acquiring new donors, or using online technologies effectively.
The 2016 campaign and election cycle affected about a third of participating organizations, with nearly one-quarter saying their charitable receipts declined and about 10 percent saying they rose, the NRC study found.

However, before the election, 24% reported a drop that the participating survey respondent thought could be traced to campaign activity, and 15% saw an increase in charitable receipts related in some way to the campaigns.

After the election, with 17% reported an increase in charitable receipts that the survey participant attributed to issues or concerns from the election or election results, and 20% reported a decline

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