Fundraising, advocacy grow online

Nonprofits posted big gains online in 2011 in revenue from fundraising and in advocacy response rates, although fundraising response rates were nearly flat, a new study says.

Overall online fundraising revenue grew 19 percent from 2010, with the number of gifts growing 20 percent, while the typical gift size fell 2 percent, says the 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M&R Strategic Services and NTEN.

The study, based on analysis of aggregate data from 44 nonprofits, also found advocacy response rates grew to 2.8 percent, up 28 percent from 2010.

And nonprofit email-driven donations forms had a median completion rate of 17 percent.

“Email has developed for nonprofits as a marketing tool,” the study says. “More groups are using best practices online to optimize their programs for better open rates, response rates and revenue.”

While one-time gifts remained the largest source of online revenue for participants, 92 percent, the study says, monthly giving grew at a faster rate, 35 percent compared to 23 percent for one-time gifts, but accounted for only 8 percent of total online revenue, up from 5 percent in 2010.

Direct email appeals accounted for 35 percent of online revenue, on average, with the remaining 65 percent from other sources such as unsolicited web giving and peer referrals.

The overall pace of “churn” in email lists totaled 19 percent, including 9 percent lost as a result of supporters who unsubscribed and 10 percent lost as a result of email addresses that became undeliverable.

The average nonprofit Facebook fan page had 31,473 users, or people who “Like” a fan page, and the average nonprofit increased its Facebook fan base by 70 percent.

For every 1,000 members of an email list, the average nonprofit had 103 Facebook fans, 29 Twitter followers, and 12 mobile subscribers.

Social-media use grows at nonprofits

Nonprofits are making greater use of social media, with Facebook reaching “saturation levels,” a new report says.

Ninety-eight percent of over 3,500 nonprofits responding to an email survey used Facebook in 2012, with 8,317 members on average, up 30 percent from a year earlier, says the 4th Annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report from NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud.

In comparison, 72 percent used Twitter, with 3,290 members on average, up 81 percent from 2011, while only 44 percent used LinkedIn, with 314 members on average, down 74 percent from 2011.

And only 23 percent used Google+, with 47 members on average.

Acquiring Facebook “likes” and Twitter “followers,” on average, cost $3.50 and $2.05, respectively.

The average value of a Facebook like totaled $2.14.81 over the 12 months following the acquisition.

That value, which was “self-reported” by respondents, far outpaces benchmarks of actual values of $32 for “offline” donors and $62 for “online” acquired donors, according to the 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Report from Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company.

The wide difference between the self-reported value and other actual marketplace benchmarks suggest that nonprofits “still lack the necessary tools to truly measure the value of social-network members,” Jeff Patrick, president of Common Knowledge, says in a statement.

Respondents on average managed 2.1 Facebook pages and 1.2 Twitter accounts, with a very small number of respondents 10 or more Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

The most common fundraising tactic was an “ask” for an individual gift, with 54 percent of respondents saying they do not use Facebook for fundraising.

Among all respondents, individual fundraising was a priority for 33 percent,  event fundraising for 20 percent, and “causes” for 17 percent.

Asked the reasons for their success in using commercial social networks, 41 percent of respondents say they took the time to develop a vision and strategy for their social-networking programs, 37 percent said their executive team made social-networking a priority, and 28 percent said they created a new position or added staff specifically focused on their commercial social-networking program.

Sixty-six percent of respondents say they use Facebook advertising to build awareness of their organization or program, 54 percent use it to get new “likes” for their Facebook page, and 33 percent use it to spur supporters to take some action, such as signing a petition, volunteer or attend a free event.