How Nonprofits Will Communicate With Donors in 2015

By eleventy marketing group

How will your nonprofit communicate with donors in 2015?What are the top communication goals at your nonprofit this year? What social media sites are most important to you? How often will you send out email and direct mail appeals? These are important questions nonprofits need to ask (and answer) every year.

Nonprofit Marketing recently released its fifth annual Nonprofit Communications and Trends Report. This report uses survey information collected from nonprofit professionals to try to get a baseline for what’s typical in nonprofit communications each year.

In today’s post, we’ll pass along some stats from the 2015 report and tell you which results stuck out to us and what they mean for your nonprofit moving forward.

About the 2015 Nonprofit Communications and Trends Report

This report is based on an online survey conducted in November 2014 of 1,535 nonprofits—51% with budgets over $1 million and 49% with budgets under $1 million. You can download the full report from Nonprofit Marketing here.

Key Insights Into How Nonprofits Will Communicate This Year

Here are some findings from the 2015 Nonprofit Communications and Trends Report. Note: the stats here are abridged from the full report to focus only on the top results for each category.

Most Important Communication Goals

57% Engaging Our Community

53% Retaining Current Donors

51% Raising Brand Awareness

50% Acquiring New Donors

33% Thought Leadership

Biggest Communication Challenges

38% Lack of time to produce quality content

38% Lack of budget for direct expenses

28% Inability to measure effectiveness

25% Lack of clear strategy

22% Producing engaging content

20% Producing enough content

19% Difficulty integrating communications channels

Most Important Communication Channels

32% Website

19% In-Person Events

15% Email Marketing

11% Social Media

9% Print marketing

8% Media Relations/PR

Most Important Social Media Sites

1. Facebook

2. Twitter

3. YouTube

4. LinkedIn

5. Instagram

How Often Will Nonprofits Send Email Appeals?

28% Monthly

26% Quarterly

13% Twice a Year

8% Every Other Week

7% Weekly

5% Will Not Send Email Appeals

How Often Will Nonprofits Send E-Newsletters?

41% Monthly

23% Quarterly

11% Every Other Week

9% Weekly

5% Will Not Send an Email Newsletter

How Often Will Nonprofits Send Direct Mail Appeals?

31% Twice a Year

27% Quarterly

14% Once a Year

12% Will Not Send Any Direct Mail Appeals

7% Monthly

Top Calls to Action via Email Appeals

1. Financial donation

2. Register for or attend an event

3. Use programs or services as a client or participant

Top Calls to Action via Print Appeals

1. Financial donation

2. Register for or attend an event

3. Advocate on behalf of the cause

The Standouts: Which Survey Results Caught Our Attention?

From the results listed above, here are a few that stuck out to us…

Most Important Communication Goals: 53% Retaining Current Donors

Though it’s not necessarily noticeable from the results themselves, it does note in the report that in the area of “Most Important Communication Goals” the answer “Retaining Current Donors” made a big jump when compared with last year’s survey results. Last year, “Acquiring New Donors” was first on the list of communication goals and “Retaining Current Donors” was fourth.

So is this change meaningful? It may be. With more competition for donors than ever before, an increased industry focus on retention over the last few years, and the lower cost of retention versus acquisition, organizations may be looking for opportunities to nurture their current donors first and acquire new donors second (at least when it comes to communications).

Biggest Communication Challenge: 25% Lack of clear strategy

While it may not top the list, this is a pretty high number. It shows just how essential a clear and meaningful strategy has become with all the communication channels available to nonprofits today. You have to lay out where and how you’re going to focus your time and money throughout the year, and also be prepared to tweak that strategy based on the results you’re seeing.

Most Important Social Media Sites: #3 YouTube

This result underlines the increasingly important role video is playing in nonprofit communications. We mentioned the power of video storytelling in our recent post on top nonprofit digital marketing trends of 2015, and the high placement of YouTube in the survey results (ahead of LinkedIn and Google+) definitely reinforces that. If your nonprofit isn’t using YouTube as a communication channel yet, this is the year to get started.

Email Appeal/Email Newsletter Frequency

It’s notable that for both sending email appeals and e-newsletters “Monthly” and “Quarterly” are the most common options. If you’re sending more often than monthly, you may be sending too much (depending on content). If you’re sending less often than quarterly, you are probably not sending frequently enough to stay on donors’ radars and get best results.

Download the full 2015 Nonprofit Communications and Trends Report now.