Study Details Nonprofit E-mail, Fundraising and Advocacy Results, Shares Advice
In the 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network, analyze online messaging, fundraising and advocacy metrics for nonprofits.
The third of its kind (previous studies were published in 2006 and 2008), the study covers data collected from 32 nonprofit organizations, presenting a four-year landscape of nonprofit e-mail, fundraising and advocacy results. Among the findings: E-mail alerts sent to previous action-takers on a given issue received response rates three times higher than those sent to the full file; for most organizations, almost a third of all online actions are taken by the most active subscribers (just seven percent of the list); and fundraising e-mails sent to previous donors received response rates more than three times as high as those sent to nondonors.
The report shares a few case studies of organizations that have had successful online campaigns. One of them details a fundraising effort by Oxfam America, whose first end-of-year fundraising appeal in 2008 generated only 50 percent of the previous year's revenue. With just 45 days remaining in the year to make up the difference, Oxfam was able to increase end-of-year giving by nearly $200,000 over 2007, bringing in more than 3,500 more donations. Passive giving to the end-of-year campaign exceeded $450,000, and the organization raised $1.4 million more in passive giving through the main donation page.
The keys to its success were:
- Focused messaging. Rather than using traditional end-of-year language that gives a broad overview of the organization's successes and upcoming initiatives, Oxfam highlighted the specific, urgent issue of the global hunger epidemic. The study says this helped the organization "make the case for why it was important to give right this minute."
- Making the most of its e-mail schedule. The organization set a public goal and deadline and promoted them in e-mail and Web copy, also featuring a thermometer graphic to show its progress toward the goal. It also replaced an e-mail newsletter and an appeal from another Oxfam program with two fundraising e-appeals, so as not to increase the overall volume of messages over the previous year.
- Optimized landing pages. Inspired by test results from previous campaigns, Oxfam made two key changes to its donation page. It created a short online video with moving text, simple animation and music that made the case for giving, and used it in every appeal and on every donation page. Oxfam also produced a cleaner and simpler API-based donation form.
- Maximizing homepage real estate. Oxfam added a "lightbox" to its homepage, which compelled visitors to give before visiting the rest of the site. It also rotated four different promotions on its homepage, which it updated with fresh content as the deadline for each promotion approached.
The study also reports that despite increased use of social-networking sites, e-mail still rules online marketing. What's more, the two methods aren't at odds with one another. Some organizations have found success using social media to grow e-mail lists. The study shared the following advice for building lists via social media:
- Provide valuable content first, ask for sign-ups second.
- Have a clear call to action on every page/site to which you drive traffic.
- Source-code newsletter additions. Stay on top of which networks and which conversations are driving the most traffic and recruits.
- Be patient. Social media is about conversations. It will take a while to build the connections that will help drive enough traffic to build your list.
Click here to download a free copy of the study.