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Highlights from the 2019 M+R Benchmarks Study

Even if your nonprofit carefully tracks your email, fundraising, web, and social media stats, you might still be up at night wondering if your experiences are consistent with those of other organizations. That’s where the M+R Benchmarks Study comes in. The data in the report comes directly from nonprofits of various sizes doing all kinds of work. This means that you can compare your own organization’s performance with that of other similar nonprofits. We recommend taking time to read through the whole report, but here are a few interesting nuggets that really stood out to us.

1% Growth Is Not As Scary As It Sounds

Based on the data acquired by the M+R team, online revenue for nonprofits grew by just 1% from 2017-2018. Compare that to the 23% growth reported by the same organizations the year before, and you might see development teams shaking in their boots. Before you panic, it’s important consider the political climate in which online fundraising has been taking place.

As we noted in our blog post about preparing for the 2020 presidential election, a number of events took place during the first year of the Trump administration that had significant impact on nonprofits and the communities they serve. One theory is that the “Trump bump” simply could not be sustained long-term, so M+R sees this as a return to more normal and predictable growth.

Attention On Retention

Digging deeper into M+R’s data opens the door to a plethora of stats that can inform your organization’s fundraising approach going forward. For example, revenue from recurring monthly gifts increased by 17%, so it’s worth making sure your forms encourage and simplify the recurring gift process and give donors an easy way to keep their credit card info up to date.

Also, the group of donors with the highest retention rates from last year were those who gave between $250 – $499. While all donors are important, think about opportunities to build deeper relationships with these mid-level supporters with creative engagement and thank you strategies.

Phones Are Your Friends

Mobile friendly, responsive websites are no longer optional, and the M+R numbers back this up. In 2018, mobile devices accounted for 48% of traffic to nonprofit organizations’ websites. At the same time, according to the data, “the average nonprofit homepage takes 0.31 seconds longer to load on a mobile device than on a desktop.” Research shows that even a one-second delay can cause a significant drop in conversions. Another interesting tidbit related to the use of mobile phones is that despite that 48% in overall traffic, mobile giving represents only 30% of online giving. To us, this means that mobile giving is one of the greatest growth opportunities for nonprofits.

This is where good design and smart development work together. Thinking about accessible color schemes, appropriately sized images, and legible fonts is just as important as working with a developer who will build you a site with clean code that will load quickly. Donation forms are no different. Mobile giving may be more spontaneous, and it does come in at lower amounts, but if your forms make it hard to give you can lose supporters. And we all know that every dollar matters.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Ads

Your organization’s presence on social media and in digital ads is critical to reaching new audiences, and both avenues can also contribute significantly to your fundraising performance. According to the M+R data, for every $100 nonprofits raised using other online channels, they raised $1.77 through Facebook. The majority of these funds came through the Facebook peer-to-peer tool, which allows individuals to tap into their own networks to support a nonprofit they love. The return on ad spend for social media was 83 cents per dollar, and the platform with the highest overall growth rate for nonprofits in 2018 was Instagram, at a whopping 34%. If your organization hasn’t yet figured out the Facebook and Instagram ad processes, there’s no time to waste.

Digital ad budgets also saw a boom in 2018 – growing by 144% among the report’s participants. While 55% of these ads focused on fundraising, branding (21%) and advocacy (23%) also had their fair share of ad buys. There’s a lot of opportunity to venture into the somewhat unknown world of digital ads. The M+R study results based on type and size of organizations can help you determine what level of spend your organization might be willing to make.

Using The Numbers

While the M+R report can’t tell you why certain trends are appearing, the data there can be used to help you make decisions to maintain current strategies or start new ones. You can even use the online ‘Benchmark Yourself’ tool to enter your metrics and see how you match up with organizations in your sector. If you want a partner to help your team respond to what you learned from the study, email us at [email protected] or complete this form.

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