There were a number of interesting findings from the new Luminate Online Benchmark Report, released at BBCON. The report includes results from 794 nonprofits, including $1.27 billion in online donations, 18 million transactions and 7.6 billion emails sent from July 2013-June 2014.

Among the interesting findings:

  1. Online giving was up 8.07% from July 2013-June 2014 (compared to the previous year)
  2. Repeat and sustainer giving increased 19% and 16%, respectively, and continue to fuel online giving
  3. First-time donations decreased slightly by 1.6%

What caught my eye, though, was that as nonprofits sent significantly more fundraising emails, conversion rates went south.

According to the report, nonprofits sent a whopping 72% more appeal emails. However, conversion rates of those emails dropped 25%.

This is actually the second consecutive year fundraising email conversion rates have declined sharply, continuing a somewhat worrisome trend. Fundraising email conversion rates declined 21% in 2012, according to last year’s report (which compared 2013 to 2012). M+R’s Benchmark Report showed similar conversion rate declines in 2012 and 2013.

Why are more fundraising emails being sent?

If I had to speculate why nonprofits upped their fundraising emails, I’d guess perhaps nonprofits have expanded their end-of-year campaign to include more emails. Or, they’ve added #GivingTuesday emails.

Perhaps nonprofits have looked beyond December and have introduced spring or summer campaigns. And with the growth in sustainer giving, perhaps more are sending sustainer-specific campaigns.

Whatever the reason, as more fundraising emails have been sent, nonprofits have seen conversion rates decrease.

How to send more email appeals and maintain conversion rates

Why do conversion rates decline as more fundraising emails are sent? I’d guess the culprits include a lack of:

  • Understanding constituent interests
  • Tailoring messaging to constituent segments
  • Creating mobile-friendly emails and donation forms
  • Performing A/B testing on email messaging
  • Sending engagement emails throughout the year

To help you maintain (and increase) your email appeal conversion rates, here are 5 helpful npENGAGE blog posts:

  1. Raise More by Avoiding “One Size Fits All” Email Appeals
  2. 3 Key Pieces in an Engaging Email Campaign
  3. 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Send Mobile-Friendlier Email
  4. 9 Underutilized Retention Emails
  5. 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Year-End Emails

Hungry for more?

Join us next Tuesday, October 21st at 1 PM Eastern for a webinar:  The 10 Must-Know Data Points from the 2014 Luminate Online Benchmark Report

Register here!

All numbers expressed are medians.  Download the report for the details on our methodology.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Snusz brings over 11+ years of nonprofit experience to his role as a principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud. He focuses on helping nonprofits create online fundraising, email, P2P, social media, SEO, analytics and website optimization strategies to maximize giving opportunities. Mike previously managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell, including the event’s growth from $330,000 to $1.2 million over a three-year period. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn and Twitter at @mikesnusz. To learn how Mike can help your organization’s next fundraising campaign, contact him at mike.snusz@blackbaud.com.

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