A new study, released this spring, examines the increasing importance of the Internet to nonprofits revealed a surge of online donations along with marketing and advocacy benefits from building an Internet constituency (and, in many cases, strengthening your relationship with your existing constituency via the Internet). The report, by M+R Strategic Services and the Advocacy Institute, is based on analysis of the online activities of 15 top national nonprofits working on environmental, legal/civil rights and environmental issues, and those of three top providers of online communications tools for nonprofits.
Here are some of the key findings from the report:
- More Donations Online
- Nonprofits raised 40% more money online in 2005 than the year before, likely driven in part by the surge in online giving after the cataclysmic Asian tsunami.
- Email Overload
- The rates at which online constituents open their emails declined from 30% in 2003-2004 to 26% in 2004-2005 as supporters became overwhelmed with email.
- Budgets Matter
- Nonprofits with larger online budgets had better online programs, building larger email lists, generating more online activism, and raising more money online.
- No surprise here. Did anyone ever think budgets didn’t matter in terms of marketing impact?
- Email Lists Growing
- On average, the nonprofits studied more than doubled their existing email lists over a 12-month period.
- Lots of Bad Email Addresses
- For most nonprofits, over a quarter of email addresses on their list go bad each year, posing a challenge for organizations trying to grow email lists quickly.
- Activism More Popular Than Donations
- Not surprisingly, more email subscribers took online political action than made an online donation — 47% vs. 6%.
Readers, put these first-time industry benchmarks to work to gauge the success of your own online initiatives.