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Growth Slows for Online Fundraising in ‘08, Smaller Donations the Culprit

(May 19, 2009) Online fundraising grew in 2008 thanks to an increase in the number of gifts, but the average gift size among all organizations decreased $15 from 2007.

The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study measures the effectiveness of nonprofit Internet fundraising and activism programs and highlights the critical importance of the Internet to mission-focused organizations. It was created by M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN).

The increase in the number of gifts helped offset revenue lost from a decline in average gifts, the study shows. Average gift size across all participating organizations was $71, down $15 from the previous year. This decline was most pronounced in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The number of online gifts increased by 43 percent from 2007, while the total dollars raised online increased by only 26 percent.

More Findings

Email open and click-through rates fell slightly from 2007 to 2008, while response rates remained relatively steady. Open rates declined from 17 to 16 percent, and click-through rates have declined nearly a half of a percent, to 2.4 percent. These declines are less pronounced than the downward trends found in previous studies.

The average subscriber on each email list received about 3.5 messages per month. This was unchanged from 2007 to 2008.

Fundraising emails sent to previous donors received response rates more than three times as high as those sent to non-donors.

"The good news is, online fundraising is still growing. It's weathering the storm better than other fundraising channels," says Marc Ruben, Vice President at M+R Strategic Services and a study co-author. "The bad news is, the pace of growth has slowed. More people are giving online, but they're giving less."

Results of AFP’s State of Fundraising Report show that online fundraising still fared well compared to other fundraising activities. Online fundraising was the only type of fundraising wherein a majority of respondents reported raising more money in 2008 than in 2007. In addition, despite the slowdown, 75 percent of respondents said they will increase their Internet fundraising activities. Full results of the AFP State of Fundraising Report will be released soon.

About the Study

The 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (available as a free download) analyzes data from 2008 and evaluates the changing landscape of nonprofit email programs, fundraising and advocacy. The data came from 32 major nonprofits working on environmental, legal/civil rights, health and international aid issues.

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