Study: Email Fund-Raising Revenue Fell In 2018

Nonprofit fundraising flattened in 2018, achieving a 1% increase in revenue over the year before, according to the 2019 M+R Benchmarks Study. And email open rates declined even as frequency rose. 

Email drove 13% of all online revenue in 2018, But email revenue fell by 8%, with Rights groups reporting a 40% decrease.

In contrast, health nonprofits enjoyed a 40% increase. The environmental sector generated 21% of its online revenue via email — the largest percentage of any type of group. 

However, email list grew by only 5% last year — slower growth than the 8% reported in 2016 and 9% in 2017.

There were exceptions — health nonprofits saw 74% growth in their list last year. But the hunger/poverty and wildlife/animal welfare groups experienced declines.

On average, nonprofits sent 59 email messages per subscriber last year, an 8% increase in volume from the year before. Fund-raising messages were the most prevalent, accounting for 25 emails per year per subscriber.



International nonprofits sent 104 emails, 50 of which were fund-raising communications. 

Advocacy email open rates declined by 5% to 15%. Click-through rates also fell — by16% to 2.4%. The page completion rate declined by 7% to 72%. The overall response rate dropped by 15% to 1.8%. And the unsubscribe rate was  0.12%, which is 2% lower than in the previous year. 

Fund-raising email suffered a 2% decline in open rates  to 14% and a 18% falloff in the page completion rate to 14%. But the click-through rate rose by 4% to 0.44%. The unsubscribe rate declined by 10% to 0.16%. The overall response rate dropped by 13% to 0.06%. 

The biggest increase in revenue — and it wasn’t huge — was in the environmental area. In contrast, the Rights segment suffered a large decline. In comparison with the flat-line growth in 2018, there was a 23% increase in revenue in 2017.

The survey also found that 37% of online donors who contributed in 2017 also did so in 2018. The retention rate was 25% for those who donated for the first-time in 2017. 

M+R surveyed 135 nonprofit partners.



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