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Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study

Posted on 3.29.2009

Convio announced the results of its annual Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study, which measures online results for nonprofits. This year's study surprised even me and I am sure it will for others. The study indicated that online engagement -- whether it is fundraising, advocacy or building a constituent database -- continues to see positive growth even in a down economy.

"Results from the 2008 study indicate that online engagement continues to play a vital role for nonprofits, especially in this economy," said Gene Austin, chief executive officer of Convio. "Compared to traditional marketing and engagement channels, online marketing and fundraising held up well. The study results prove that online marketing should be a key component of any nonprofit organization's strategy to raise money, empower constituents and build a solid database of donors and supporters." 

The study focused on website traffic and registration, email file health, online fundraising, e-commerce, online communications, and advocacy. Key findings of the study include positive year-over-year growth in all areas (which is in contrast to reports that indicate traditional direct mail led engagement and fundraising growth declined in 2008 overall and especially in the fourth quarter). The report also indicates that Web traffic continues to expand with the average monthly website traffic growing year-over-year at a rate of 20 percent. Email file growth (the number of email addresses on file) continues to be strong as well. (Email lists have a direct impact on an organizations ability to communicate with, cultivate and solicit actions from constituents.) A 14 percent growth in online revenue was fueled by a 14 percent increase in the number of gifts nonprofit organizations received in 2008. Even as traditional fundraising channels experienced challenges in 2008, online fundraising remained a growth engine for many organizations.

Larger organizations of course outperformed their smaller counterparts and are faring better in the recession than smaller organizations. Larger groups raised seven times more money on average for the full year and raised 11 times that of smaller organizations during the fourth quarter of 2008. This growth can be attributed to the strength of their brands, as well as the fact that they typically have more resources and experience than their smaller counterparts to execute multi-channel campaigns. As smaller organizations increase their online sophistication, study authors believe there is an opportunity for smaller organizations to close this gap.

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