Nonprofit Marketing Stats & Trends from the 2015 DMA Fact Book Webinar

By eleventy marketing group

Charitable Giving by YearLast week, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) kicked off the launch of the 2015 DMA Fact Book with a webinar highlighting some key facts and stats from the book. It was a great webinar with a lot of insightful information on emerging trends and best practices. You can view the full webinar here.

Our own Vice President of Strategy and Development Angie Moore led the Nonprofit Marketing section of the webinar. She looked at some overall giving trends as well as key findings related to nonprofit usage of direct mail, email, online fundraising, and social media.

In today’s post, we’ll spotlight some of the statistics Angie shared during her presentation and some of her thoughts on what nonprofits are doing well and where they can improve.

Overall Giving

Angie: The trends in nonprofit giving are solid. I wouldn’t say we’re blowing the doors off with increases year over year, but if you look at just the U.S. charitable giving by year you see a very nice trend of consistent growth (see graph above).

Key Stats:

  • Giving is up for the 5th year in a row
  • Top five types of nonprofits consumers are giving to:
    1. Church/Place of Worship (50%)
    2. Local Social Service Organizations (45%)
    3. Children’s Charities (37%)
    4. Health Charities (35%)
    5. Animal Rescue/Shelter/Protection Charities (25%)
  • 1 in 3 consumers surveyed say they have responded to a letter in the mail or made a donation online

Angie: We’re not just seeing an uptick in the holidays. We’re not just seeing an uptick when people are doing their taxes. We’re seeing solid increases month over month.

12 Month Giving Trends

Direct Mail

Angie: At least once a year someone blogs or writes about how direct mail is dying. And it’s just not happening. There have been some significant shifts in how nonprofits are using direct mail, but it certainly has not died. Now, it’s also not significantly changing year over year.

There’s some under-usage for this channel, but it’s healthy, it’s solid and it’s trending in the right direction.

Key Stats:

  • Mail volume has grown (modestly) year over year
  • Percentage of consumers who indicate they read their direct mail immediately went up year over year in most areas (church, medical, veterans, museum, nonprofit, charities)
  • 55+ audience still tops the numbers for fundraising direct mail
  • Frequency of direct mail communication has not changed much from last year and continues to show some lost opportunity:
    • 7% send direct mail monthly
    • 27% quarterly
    • 30% twice a year
    • 14% once a year

Online Opportunity

Angie: Email may not have killed direct mail, but it has become a critical part of an integrated marketing plan. In the nonprofit industry, we really need to start using email more strategically than perhaps we’re using it now.

We still have organizations not using email to communicate with their donors. Younger donors are coming into the fold and they’re more likely to want email communication—and I think that’s really a lost opportunity for some charities.

Key Stats:

  • Averages across the industry show healthy giving trends:
    • $101.62 average first time online donation
    • $93.82 average repeat online donation
    • $118.74 average non-sustainer online donation
    • $33.01 average online sustainer (monthly) donation
  • Frequency is still a question across the industry based on 2015 plans:
    • 28% will send email monthly
    • 26% will send quarterly
    • 8% will send every other week
  • E-Newsletters are still popular with 41% of nonprofits sending them monthly and 23% sending them quarterly (90% are sending an e‐newsletter at some point during the year)

Top Nonprofit Communication Channels

  • When nonprofits rated the importance of all channels, the top 3 were all digital:
    1. Websites
    2. Email Marketing
    3. Traditional Social Media
  • Offline marketing was ranked by only 9% of the people as their #1 channel—though 39% ranked it in the top 4.

Angie: I’m a little bit bothered that offline is ranked by only 9 percent as their number-one channel. For most organizations offline communication is still such a heavy portion, just by shear volume, of reach to their constituency. I’m not saying that it needs to be number-one for every organization, but it still needs a huge amount of attention.

Social Media

Angie: For most nonprofit organizations, I think social media is still a mystery. The biggest challenges are content management and development. This is something we have seen year over year. It’s what everybody complains about—the amount of time, energy and budget required to do Facebook and Twitter right. It’s getting in the way.

Key Stats:

  • Facebook continues to be considered most effective, with Twitter and YouTube in the 2nd and 3rd
  • Content management & development have been a challenge for several years and that continues this year:
    • Over half of the nonprofits surveyed indicated that lack of budget is the #1 challenge
    • Measuring the effectiveness of content is the 2nd most common challenge
  • 1 in 3 nonprofits surveyed indicated that technology and/or lack of buy‐in from leadership where barriers to delivering relevant content to online constituents.

Angie: These last few bullet points are pressing on some political issues I think are all tied together. If there’s not a vision, and if there’s not a way to say this is important to us and it’s helping us accomplish something, it becomes very difficult to defend. And we all know what happens in budget meetings.

The mysteries are going to go away. We’re going to get better and better with it, so I don’t see it as a problem. But I hope that this time next year when we’re reporting on it again, we’re dealing with more of the marketing-focused issues rather than the operational-focused issues surrounding social media.

Hear Angie’s thoughts directly—and get more great marketing insights. View the 2015 DMA Statbook Overview Webinar now…