Fundraising Ideas to Reverse The Trend of Declining eMail Response Rates | npENGAGE

Fundraising Ideas to Reverse the Trend of Declining Email Response Rates

By on Apr 5, 2013


The much-anticipated 2013 eNonprofit Benchmark study was released last week. It contains online fundraising, advocacy, email, social, and mobile results from 55 U.S.-based national nonprofits in 2012. Nonprofits often use this study to benchmark their own online activities and fundraising ideas.

One of the eye-catching findings from the study was the steep decline in the performance of fundraising emails in 2012. Fundraising email click-through rates dropped 27 percent and response rates were down 21 percent from 2011.

This follows a recent trend that email click-through rates have declined across all industries. Epsilon and The Email Institute’s Q3 2012 report indicated overall click-through rates have fallen from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent over the past year.

What’s to blame? For certain nonprofit sectors, the eNonprofit study cites real world activities as a possible cause. I’ll speculate a poor mobile experience might also be partially to blame.

The study advises that “addressing email engagement should be a top priority for anyone involved in raising money and driving advocacy online in 2013.”

With that in mind, here are eight popular npENGAGE posts to help improve email engagement and fundraising email results:

  1. One Email Tactic Nonprofits Need to Steal From Brand Marketers – Discusses the most effective way to increase email relevancy and 10 types of these campaigns.
  2. Why the Rise of Mobile Email Might Hurt Nonprofits – Why mobile click-through rates are lacking, what this means for nonprofits and how nonprofits can improve their mobile email experience.
  3. Keeping Your Email Simple (and Mobile-Friendly too!) – Tips for sending more mobile-friendly email messages.
  4. Increase Your Email Revenue by 20% on December 31st – Interesting review of how testing your year-end email timing and frequency led to a bump in year-end fundraising. Make sure to check out these email fundraising ideas.
  5. It’s Not Too Late! Make Your Year-end Communication Plan Impactful – Analyzed the impact of sending additional year-end emails and five things to consider before doing so. Email fundraising ideas you can’t miss.
  6. The Obama Way to Getting More Results From Email Marketing – An analysis of the Obama campaign’s email messaging and seven ways to get more from email. The Obama team has some incredible email fundraising ideas.
  7. 5 Follow-up Email Techniques from Top Nonprofits – Five effective and efficient approaches for sending follow-up messages within an email campaign.
  8. Nonprofit Email Design: 20 Tips for More Effective Emails – Design and styling tips for creating email messages, including more consistent rendering across email clients.

It’s worth noting that the eNonprofit study did find email click-through rates varied significantly by nonprofit sectors.

Rights and International organizations experienced the sharpest drops, which the study’s authors speculated could be a result of real world activities, like the 2012 election and lack of a major international crisis covered in the media. Wildlife/Animal Welfare and Health organizations had lower click-through declines, while Environmental Groups saw an increase.


ps. Make sure to check out npEXPERTS: Fundraising Ideas and Marketing Tips from the Pros (#npEXPERTS). It’s a 46-page free e-book collaboratively written by a cross-section of npEXPERTS in fundraising, marketing and communications, social media, mobile technology, digital advertising, and more.



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

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