With all the excitement about all the social networks and all the purchases that Facebook has been making lately, it’s worth remembering that not only do more ‘traditional’ media exist but they also can be of greater value than the newest platform that has all the media and investor eyeballs. Such should be especially remembered by nonprofits who might not have the resources to establish a presence on the latest Pinterest trend.
According to the latest eNonprofit Benchmark Study by NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) and M+R Strategic Services, a substantial email list and a well-crafted email campaign remain the most valuable fundraising tools in your charity’s box. Just how valuable?
For me, one of the biggest surprises in the report was not so much the fact that, but that response rates went up by 28% since the previous year, and fundraising via email outreach went up as well by 19%. Given the pseudo-recovery we’re having − unless we’re not having one − that fundraising initiated by the tried-and-true e-blast grew even by double digits should give nonprofits motivation to keep the blasts going.
That’s not to say other platforms are not expanding as well. Facebook ‘likes’ for nonprofits and charities went up an average of 70%! If yours didn’t skyrocket, don’t fret: social-network platforms are catching eyeballs, but not bringing in donations. And even with that stunning growth, social networks like Facebook and Twitter remain well behind emails for click throughs and actionable responses from constituents. And the graphic from the NTEN/M+R Report shows above, email still is the biggest puller of readers and activists.
What is changing, is the ’emerging’ technology by which people access the ‘older’ medium. “Of the nonprofits with mobile programs surveyed, roughly a third had optimized their emails for display on smartphones, and a third had not. The remaining third plan to optimize their emails within the coming year. As of November 2011, 89.6 million Americans use their mobile phone to access either work or personal email – an increase of 28% in the last year alone.” (p.24) Which means the email blast should still remain the opening salvo when fundraising, but your nonprofit needs to be ensuring that the email is as accessible on a smartphone as it is on a tablet or laptop.
You can download the entire report here. But be sure to develop email designs that will facilitate reading, engaging, and donating on a smartphone.
We would also love to hear your anecdotal experiences of 2011. Have you seen growth? Has a recovery benefited your organization? What worked? Share with your peers how your nonprofit helped raise the numbers.