Ok, I admit it— I’m a data dork.  I love exploring the detail of fundraising campaign results.  Open rates, click throughs, conversions, which constituents did what, who gave for the first time, who gave again….the list goes on and on.  I can always take a guess at what works and what doesn’t, but the data gives me a clear view into what exactly happened.  It’s the insight I need to know what can be improved upon next time. But I also love seeing how my campaigns compare against those of other organizations. And how is one organization doing relative to other charities?  That’s always on my mind.  All of this is why I am so excited for next week’s release of Blackbaud’s 2015 Luminate Online Benchmark report.

Yeah, I know, there are lots of benchmarks out there.  What makes this one so special?  In a word – size. With data from 685 domestic nonprofits across 18 NTEE verticals, 22 million individual transactions, 6 billion emails sent and over $1.5 billion dollars raised, it’s the biggest, baddest benchmark out there.  Without a doubt, it’s the most comprehensive and reliable set of data on nonprofit online fundraising you will find anywhere.

So what did we learn this year?  I won’t give away all the good stuff, but here’s 3 key findings from the 2015 report:

  1. Sustained and repeat giving matters – a lot. More than you think. Trust me. I had to check the numbers a couple of times before I really believed how much total nonprofit online fundraising was driven by sustainers and repeat donors.  I won’t give away the numbers here, but it’s a staggering look into who is giving.  Acquisition is always important, but whew, it’s a sustainer/repeat giving kind of world these days.
  2. Many orgs are seeing positive growth in email conversion rates.  You know when the last time that happened?  Yeah, me either, and I do this for a living.
  3. Housefiles are growing, but the % of your file that donates is growing faster.  For the first time we included the % of donors on file that donate.  Think your file is active?  You sure?  This one might give you shivers.

For the actual numbers to the metrics above, along with all the rest of the sexy data, download the report next week. If you are going to #bbcon, be sure to check out the LO Benchmark presentation on Wednesday (hint, I’m presenting) where we’ll get stupid nerdy with the results and show you examples of how to excel in each category.


Andrew Shoaff manages Blackbaud’s Essentials with Go!™ program, a group consulting service that helps nonprofit organizations deepen constituent engagement and accelerate online fundraising. Previously, Andrew was the acting CFO/COO of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. and has additional professional experience in management consulting and private equity. He holds an MBA from Indiana University, a BA from Hamilton College, and professional certifications in project management (PMP®) and Six Sigma processes.

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