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Online nonprofit fundraising is on the rise, with explosive growth in sustaining gifts and a larger audience of supporters reached via social networks, according to an analysis of leading US nonprofits.

Email list is up 15%, online revenue grew 21% from 2012 levels, and the number of Twitter followers increased 264% over the past year, the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, conducted by M+R Strategic Services and NTEN, found.

However, the long-term decline of email response rates is continuing, even as online revenues increase and social media audiences grow, according to the analysis.

Click-through rates for fundraising messages, for example, declined steeply (down 27% from 2011); consequently, fundraising response rates dropped to 0.07%—a 21% decrease from the prior year.

Below, additional findings from the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, including an infographic, tables, and the following key findings and infographic:

  • A 21% year-over-year increase in online revenue overall, with only International groups recording a decline in online giving.
  • A sharp decline in certain key email metrics, such as a 14% decline in click-through rates for advocacy messages and 27% decline for fundraising messages. Those declines were driven mostly by Rights and International groups, whereas advocacy messages sent on behalf of Environmental groups performed best.
  • Since 2011, online monthly giving grew 43%, or more than twice as fast as one-time giving. Although still a small percentage of overall giving, sustaining gifts for International groups now account for18% of revenue.
  • Email list sizes continue to grow for all sectors and sizes, up an average of 15% in 2012. Wildlife and Animal Welfare groups increased their list size the most: 32% from 2011 levels.
  • Social media audience growth outpaced that of email lists. Facebook audiences grew an average of 46%; Twitter followers increased 264%. Facebook remains the primary social network for connecting with supporters, reaching 149 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers.

Email Benchmarks

The following table displays various email metrics by nonprofit message type:

Social Media Reach

For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have the following number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers...


"Nonprofits are continuing to adapt to the needs of their supporters, connecting with more people in more ways than ever before," said Sarah DiJulio, Principal at M+R Strategic Services. "Just as their issues have evolved, nonprofits are increasingly embracing new and innovative technologies of email, social media, and mobile platforms to bring the message to the masses."

About the study: The 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, conducted by M+R Strategic Services and NTEN, examined data from 55 nonprofits in sectors ranging from rights to environmental issues. The current study is the seventh such report and is based on an analyses of 1.6 billion email messages sent to 45 million list subscribers, 7.3 million advocacy actions, and more than $438 million online donations from over 6.5 million online gifts collected throughout 2012.

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Nonprofit Benchmarks: Email, Social, Audience, Fundraising [Infographic]

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Vahe Habeshian is the director of publications at MarketingProfs and a longtime editor. Reach him via

LinkedIn: Vahe Habeshian

Twitter: @habesh