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Monthly Donors Jumped Last Year

Updated: May 2, 2022

Measuring the effectiveness of your nonprofit's communications can feel like trying to find your car keys in the dark while wearing mittens. How do you measure success with nothing to guide you? That's what makes the annual Benchmarks Report from the marketing firm M&R so valuable. M&R's report is one of the best overviews of nonprofit digital marketing trends around. The 2022 edition was just released, so let's dive into the results.

Monthly giving is exploding! For a long time, fundraising experts have recommended that nonprofits promote monthly giving and nonprofits are finally following their advice. Online monthly giving increased by 22% last year, up from a respectable 16% increase in 2020. Online monthly donors give an average of $25, which adds up to $300 per year. For comparison's sake, all online donors give an average of $208 per year. Based on that, converting your regular donors to monthly donors is a net gain.

Online revenue was up by 3% - The good news? donor generosity continued through the second year of COVID. The bad news? The gains were uneven. Large nonprofit online funding grew by 6%, but mid-sized nonprofits actually fell slightly.

The impact on sectors was even more pronounced. Hunger and poverty-related nonprofits saw their online revenue plummet by 32%. Nonprofits in that sector saw big increases in revenue in 2020, so a decrease in 2021 might be expected, but food insecurity certainly didn't fall by a third last year. On the other side of the coin, cultural programs lost a lot of revenue in 2020 and saw a 27% increase last year, indicating that their supporters are coming back, especially as the arts return to live events.

Nonprofits are increasing their reliance on email - Nonprofit email list sizes grew by a substantial 7%, which may reflect their efforts to hold onto the new donors they connected with in 2020. However, they have less to show for it. The data says you have to send 1,000 fundraising messages to $78, an 11% drop from 2020. Why? Maybe those new donors from 2020 didn't stick around in 2021. It also reflects the gifts from both donors and prospects. One key to running a successful email campaign is to remember that it is much more effective at stewarding existing donors than bringing in contributions from prospects. It is no surprise that donors are five times more likely to respond than prospects.

What looks like good news may actually be bad (or at least confusing) news. The open rate (how many people open your emails) jumped to 22%, a huge increase over last year. Unfortunately, the reason is that Apple's new privacy software means most I-phones say the user opened your email whether they saw it or not.

Nonprofits are spending on digital ads, but what are they getting in return? In terms of return on investment, it costs nonprofits an average of $86 for every donation they receive through social media. Yet, nonprofits increased their spending on digital ads by 19%, even as the return on investment became more questionable. Even though decades of marketing and development wisdom says to spend most of your effort building awareness and then ask for money, more than half of nonprofit digital ad budgets went to fundraising, with less than a third going to awareness. It was even worse for small nonprofits, which spent three-fourths of their ad budgets on fundraising.

Overall, nonprofits are very active on social media whether they pay for ads or just post. Nearly every nonprofit was on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Nonprofits on Tik Tok has jumped, but if you aren't using it, you are not alone. Less than 25% of nonprofits said they were on Tik Tok. The number of followers for nonprofits on Facebook appears to have flattened out, but jumped 25% on Instagram between 2020 and 2021. Twitter rose slightly.

People surf the web on their phones but donate from their desktops - The data shows that more than half of website visits come from mobile devices, 76% of online revenue is paid through desktops and the average amount of each donation is much lower on mobile devices than desktops.

One of the weirdest findings of the study concerns the transition from desktop to mobile traffic. The percentage of people coming to websites from desktop computers actually grew last year. People visiting from desktops increased by 14% last year. Why? No one seems to know. Maybe everyone was surfing the web while they were supposed to be home working!


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