The total that charities raised online jumped 19 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year, and the number of Internet gifts they received climbed 20 percent, according to a new study that analyzes online fundraising and advocacy at 44 national charities.
The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study was published by M+R Strategic Services, a fundraising consulting company, and the Nonprofit Technology Network.
The share of people who responded to e-mail fundraising appeals and advocacy requests dropped in each of the last five eNonprofit Benchmarks studies. But in 2011, organizations said the percentage who made gifts increased 2 percent and the percentage who responded to advocacy alerts jumped 28 percent.
The increases can be attributed, at least in part, to organizations' being smarter about their use of e-mail, says Sarah DiJulio, a principal at M+R Strategic Services.
"They're consistently writing more compelling e-mail copy, tying it to the issues of the day," she says. "They're also doing more sophisticated targeting and segmentation, so actually sending the e-mails to the people who are most likely to respond to them as opposed to blasting every e-mail to the full e-mail file."
On average, monthly giving accounted for 8 percent of the money nonprofits collected online in 2011, compared with 5 percent in 2010. The average size of one-time online gifts for groups in the study was $62, while the average size of monthly gifts was $20.
Organizations' social-media efforts continued to grow significantly in 2011. The groups in the study saw their number of Facebook fans increase by an average of 70 percent in 2011. On average, the charities in the study had 103 Facebook fans, 29 Twitter followers, and 12 mobile subscribers for every 1,000 people on their e-mail lists.
While the number of supporters who have asked to receive information via cellphone is still small, the number of people who view the groups' e-mail messages on mobile devices is growing significantly.
For the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights organization that participated in the study, 17 percent of the group's e-mail messages that are opened are read on mobile phones. As a result, the organization is experimenting with ways to make its messages easy to read on the devices' small screens.
Send an e-mail to Nicole Wallace.