Online fundraising grows

Driven mainly by “recurring” donors and “repeat” donors, online fundraising grew steadily in 2012, a new study says.

Among roughly 500 organizations that sent 4.2 billion emails and raised $1.12 billion in 2012, online fundraising grew 27 percent from recurring donors and 20 percent from repeat donors, according to Blackbaud’s Online Marketing Benchmarking Study for Nonprofits.

A recurring donor regularly gives a specified amount over a set period of time, while a repeat donor is one that gives again after making an initial gift.

Open rates remained consistent with 2011, while click-through and response rates continued to drop, says the study, which included only organizations that had used Blackbaud’s Luminate platform for at least three years.

Response rates on appeals tell over 18 percent from 2011, a decline that reflects “a saturated channel with undifferentiated messaging and campaigns,” the study says. “This is present in direct mail, telemarketing and face-to-face solicitation.”

First-time gifts grew 3 percent while advocacy posted an increase of 8.7 percent in actions taken, and advocates who also made a contribution grew 11.9 percent.

Food Banks and organizations with smaller email files outperformed other “vertical” fields of interest on a median percentage basis, the study says.

Canadian organizations, higher education, hospitals, hospital foundations and Jewish organizations also posted strong performances, it says.

Those vertical performances”may be explained by the trend of donors becoming more cautious, and giving to charities to which they feel connected,” the study says. “There is a trend for this behavior, particularly with colleges, hospitals, and similar groups.”

Todd Cohen

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