Online Fundraising: How Public Media Compares to Other Nonprofits in 2019

Membership, online giving

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If you felt like your organization’s online giving was unpredictable or lackluster in 2018 you are not alone. According to the recently released M+R Benchmarks report surveying 135 diverse nonprofits, online giving revenues grew a measly 1% last year.

After an incredible 2017 with revenue growth of 23%, the 1% increase in revenue in 2018 fell short of expectations. But the team at M+R highlights the good news: it’s still a 77% increase from 2014. According to the report, this flat growth is the market right-sizing itself after the outpouring of donations following the 2016 election. M+R suggests, “It’s that the growth happened a year early, showing up in 2017.”

There is no sugar coating some of the other data in the report, however: Email open and click-through rates fell to 14% and .44%, respectively; and membership growth slowed (after a big 21% increase in 2017 to a 5% increase in 2018).

But the data also gives us some guidelines for being successful despite growth slowing, such as improving donor retention and sustainer programs, increasing the effectiveness of other channels, and mobilizing your most passionate supporters.

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Three Strategies to Strengthen Fundraising in an Unpredictable Economy

Membership, customer service, Social/Mobile, Engagement, online giving

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Stations have grown used to raising money in the glow of a decade-long economic expansion and much-touted strong economy. Maybe economic news will remain glowing. But the chief economist at Freddie Mac recently said we are in a “mental recession,” explaining a palpable nationwide unease. If this persists, members, listeners, and viewers may do what donors always have done when facing uncertainty: delay giving decisions and avoid new commitments.

When planning for the next 12-18 months, stations can either hope for the best or get ready. But ready for what? If macro factors like gyrating stock markets, uncharted tax policy, and political upheaval begin scaring people away from giving, what can we do about it? In fact, there are three smart things stations can do, no matter what 2019 and 2020 hold:

  1. Reexamine member acquisition using ALL of your digital prospect channels.


    Stop neglecting NPR One subscribers, PBS.org website visitors or your social media followers. Probe your fundraising results from non-member digital constituents, fix weak performers, test neglected groups.

    Test new ways to recruit sustainers, like apps for rounding up spare change on credit card purchases.

    Get e-communications off snooze control. Pretend you don’t have an e-newsletter or e-anything and design them from scratch, asking what would motivate people to give.

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Online Fundraising: How Public Media Measures Up to Other Nonprofits in 2018

Membership, email, online giving

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If you have wondered if your last fundraising email could have been more effective or if your online fundraising is performing at its best, we have good news. The 2018 M+R Benchmarks report offers a look into where public media's online fundraising performs relative to that of other nonprofits. The resulting data can provide an easy list of areas to tackle at your organization.

This mardi gras of metrics compiles data from across the nonprofit sector for a close look at the activities that constitute online fundraising: email, website performance, and social media. The M+R Benchmarks report sheds light on the details that contributed to last year’s 23% growth in total online revenue. (Specifically, a decrease in email open rates and conversion was countered by increasing email subscribers, more fundraising messages, the growth of subscription giving, and ever-expanding social media audiences). 

For the first time the report highlights public media organizations and describes a few major differences of our sector versus other organizations raising money online:

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Four Ways to Improve the Conversion Rate of Donors Giving via Mobile

Membership, online giving

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Recommendations from Dick McPherson, CEO, newdonorstrategies.com

When a listener wants to make a gift to a station, one of the greatest tragedies (from a fundraising perspective) is if the gift never happens because it's just too hard to get the money from the donor to you.

Completing a gift should be an effortless experience. And it's up to us, of course, to remove as many barriers as we can to make it so. 

Giving on a phone or tablet can be especially fraught. The gift conversion rate (percent of givers who succeed in making a gift once they've visiting your giving form) on mobile devices is half what it is on laptops. 

Aim to achieve at least a 25% conversion rate for giving via mobile devices. 

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6 Fresh Ideas for Your Station’s “Thank You” Landing Page

donor thank-yous, Membership, online giving, acknowledgement

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Reposted with permission from Nonprofit Tech for Good.

Each time @NonprofitOrgs reaches a 100K-follower benchmark, Nonprofit Tech for Good donates to various nonprofits. It’s a way to give back, but its also a system used to periodically review how nonprofits are innovating their online giving process. In this last round of donations, $25 to 28 nonprofits ($700 for reaching 700K followers), some progress has been made since the last round of donations made at 600K followers. More nonprofits are streamlining their online giving process and using more visuals to communicate their gratitude to donors.

A “thank you” landing page is the page that donors land on after their donation has been made. It’s an important page because it is one of the few times you have the hyperfocused attention of your donors as they wait for their credit card payment to be processed and confirmed. Yet surprisingly it is one of the most overlooked web pages on a nonprofit’s website. Most “Thank You” landing pages appear as though they haven’t been updated since the early 2000’s, but as many nonprofit have launched new responsively designed websites since the last round of donations, “Thank You” landing pages are slowly but surely getting redesigned to accommodate today’s mobile and social donors.

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Five Lessons Learned From Donating to 25 Nonprofits

Membership, Social/Mobile, online giving

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Reprinted with permission from Nonprofit Tech for Good.

This week Nonprofit Tech for Good donated $25 to 25 nonprofits in order to study how nonprofits are progressing in the design of their donation pages and in the efficacy of their online donation process. There was a wide variety in donation page design, layout, and functionality and that made donating to 25 nonprofits all in one sitting a somewhat frustrating, and at times, perplexing experience.

Seven of the 25 nonprofits required a donor to provide their phone number. Two required entering a captcha to give. Two nonprofits did not follow-up with a “thank you” email. One nonprofit that I could not donate to was missing the address field so the donation could not be processed. Another nonprofit timed out twice (on two different days) during the donation processing and the donation was never completed.

Four of the 25 nonprofits were based in countries where online fundraising is a challenge and options are limited, but if your nonprofit is based in North America, Europe, or Australia and New Zealand, you have excellent online fundraising services available, so take this as a reminder to donate to your own nonprofit with a fresh set of eyes and upgrade your fundraising service, if necessary. And mimic the large nonprofits! The Wilderness Society, UNICEF, and Conservation International have well-designed donation pages that were easy-to-use and effective.

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