We’re all mad scientists here: Concoct a better recipe for digital fundraising

IMG_0017Putty lovers beware! Crazy Aaron’s, our source for thinking putty, is no longer selling putty in bulk. If, like Jenny, you are freaking out — And I quote, “This is a disaster of biblical proportions!!” – never fear. Hanna and I have dedicated the summer to the mad science of putty making. We’ll keep you informed on our progress, and should have samples for everyone to try at this summer’s AFP Statewide Conference.
When not making putty, I’ve been researching a topic affecting our clients:
What’s happening in the world of digital communications and fundraising? How can I help you measure your performance better? More importantly, how can I help you raise more money online and through social media?
What do we know about online fundraising?
  1. Overall online revenue increased by 14% in 2016, similar to the 15% growth participants measured in 2015.  International nonprofits composed the only sector to see a drop in online revenue in 2016 – a year-over-year decline of 12%.
  2. Revenue from monthly giving grew by 23%, compared to 13% growth for one-time giving. Monthly revenue growth outpaced the growth in one-time gift revenue for every sector except Public Media, which saw a decline in monthly revenue. Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online revenue in 2016.
  3.  Email messaging accounted for 26% of all online revenue. The 15% increase in email revenue closely tracked the 14% growth in online revenue overall.
  4. The average revenue raised per 1,000 fundraising messages delivered was $36. This represents a modest (2.6%) decline from 2015 – but the relatively stable overall number obscures substantial variation between sectors. Rights nonprofits saw a 20% increase in this metric, while the Wildlife/Animal Welfare sector experienced a 25% decrease. As always, pay special attention to groups of your size and in your sector when reviewing the full report.
What do we know about social media?
  1. For every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 428 Facebook fans, 141 Twitter followers, and 39 Instagram followers.
  2. Nonprofit Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram audiences experienced impressive growth in 2016. The number of Facebook fans grew by 23% over 2015; Twitter followers by 50%, and Instagram followers by 101%.
  3. Organizations posted to Facebook an average of 1.4 times per day and tweeted an average of 3.7 times per day. Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits were the most prolific on both platforms.
  4. Facebook engagement was substantially higher than Twitter engagement. On Facebook, 4.6% of users who saw a post engaged in some way, while only 1.3% of Twitter audiences did the same.
  5. Nonprofits paid to increase reach for 2.7% of their Facebook posts in 2016.
  6. Just 8% of a nonprofit’s Facebook fans viewed an average post.

Should you invest in Facebook ads and boosted posts?

On average, a nonprofit will reach just 8% of its fans with a post that isn’t promoted.  However, a lot folks who do see your posts aren’t your fans (yet). As their friends engage with your content – especially when they click “Share” – it pops up in their Newsfeeds. In fact, 45% of Facebook users who saw a given post were not already fans of the nonprofit. Conclusion: it’s critical to get your ambassadors – staff, board members, donors, followers – to engage with your social media and share it widely. It’s also critical to budget for online ads and boosting.
How many friends do you have? 

The researchers recommend a new measurement for Facebook activity in addition to your friend count. They call it Earned Reach Average (ERA): the average number of people who see a given post for every Facebook fan you have. Check out the study to see how you compare to others.

I’d really love to hear from you about this topic. Please email me your own stats, successes and failures, and questions. Let’s figure out together how to raise more money for all our causes through email and social media!