Monday, March 21, 2011

Benchmark study shows Online’s strength

Web-based fundraising is coming of age. That’s the conclusion of the 2011Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study, which evaluated the results of nearly 600 Convio non-profit organizations.

The study, which was released in early March, found that Online is the fastest growing fundraising channel for non-profits. In 2010, Convio’s clients raised more than $1.3 billion online, up 40 percent from 2009. The median growth rate in online giving was 20 percent. This compares to a median growth rate of 14 percent in 2009. Still, while the majority saw growth, a significant minority saw decreases – some 21 per cent.

They found that online giving is growing fastest for small organizations. Organizations with fewer than 10,000 email addresses saw a 26 percent increase in online giving.

Overall, numbers of gifts and the median donation size increased (to $91.94 US in 2010).

Also growing are email lists. The report found that the median total email file grew 22 percent to 48,700 constituents.

Certainly, this is good news for those who have embraced online fundraising. Many Canadian charities have very basic online marketing capabilities. For example, a large number don’t have email systems, and many of those who do fail to use it for fundraising. They have been reluctant to put more resources into online until it proves itself. Now, that proof is here.

Some negatives
On the less than positive side, web traffic rates grew very slowly. Only half of all respondents saw their website traffic increase from 2009 to 2010. Overall web traffic growth in 2010 was just 2 percent, the second consecutive year that the growth rate has been in single digits.

As well, website registration rates continue to decline. The rate at which the non-profits converted website visitors to their email file in 2010 was 2.0 percent — a decrease from 2.2 percent in 2009.

Open rates continued to decline. Open rates for fundraising appeals were down from 18.5 percent in 2009 to 17.6 percent in 2010; and newsletter open rates declined from 20.4 percent in 2009 to 19.2 percent in 2010.

What does all this mean?

First, you need to realize that this is a large US study from a company that deals with medium-to-large non-profits. Here in Canada, non-profits tend to be smaller and less sophisticated. Likely, that means that these numbers cannot easily be transferrable to our non-profits. In fact, we are most likely behind the US on a number of these measurements.

Second, this does point the way to the future. While things may not be as rosy online here as in the US this study shows clearly where fundraising is going. The recent 2010 Non-Profit Year-in-review study comes to the same conclusion.

Third, some of the negatives listed above appear to be symptoms of a lack of a valid online marketing strategy. It is one thing to start sending fundraising emails, it is another to make it compelling. That might be the missing link here.

Overall, the study shows the need for flexibility in fundraising marketing, especially when it comes to online marketing. If the world is going online to give, Canadian non-profits should be there to help.

1 comment:

  1. Embrace online fundraising and play an important role in raising funds. You just need to raise funds sitting at your home.