The 2021 Open Data Project [españolfrançaisseeks to gain a better understanding of how nonprofits, NGOs, and charities worldwide use technology for digital marketing and fundraising. At the core of the project is the 2021 Global NGO Technology Survey and the data below is based on the survey responses of 478 nonprofit email marketing managers. It’s worth noting that in the survey the questions about email marketing and fundraising are only presented to those that have working knowledge in nonprofit email marketing and fundraising.

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1) 69% of nonprofits worldwide regularly publish an email newsletter. Of those, 93% use an email marketing service, such as MailChimp or ConstantContact, to send their email newsletters. 7% send their email newsletters via BCC.

Sending email newsletters via BCC should be avoided in all circumstances. Odds are your emails are going to spam folders and are in violation of email compliance laws that require opt-out information and a mailing address to be prominently featured in all email campaigns.
By not using an email marketing service, your organization can not track open and engagement rates, segment your subscribers, or ensure that the opt-in is consensual. Sending email newsletters with an attachment is an absolute worst practice that is common with BCC email campaigns.

37% regularly delete unengaged email subscribers. An unengaged email subscriber is one that has not opened or clicked an email within a set timeframe, such as three or six months.

To be successful at email marketing and fundraising, nonprofits must regularly attempt to re-engage unengaged subscribers. If they can not, then those subscribers should be deleted to improve your open rate, thus email deliverability. Also, continuing to send emails to unengaged subscribers can be expensive.

3) 64% of nonprofits use personalization in their email newsletters, such as a first name in the subject line, in the salutation of the email, and/or in the body of an email.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and personalized calls to action convert 202% better than default calls to action.

4) 25% use email subscribe pop-ups on their website.

Some nonprofits fear adding an email subscribe pop-up to their website will annoy their website visitors, but that fear can prevent your organization from using a very powerful means to grow your email list. 51% of new email subscribers to Nonprofit Tech for Good come from email subscribe pop-ups. To add pop-ups to your website, consider using Mailmunch or OptinMonster.

5) 41% of nonprofits worldwide send email newsletters to their supporters and donors monthly. 28% quarterly, 18% twice monthly, 10% weekly, 2% weekly, and 1% daily.

It is becoming more difficult for nonprofits to reach the Inboxes of their supporters and donors. Increasingly, emails are being filtered to the Promotions Tab in Gmail or to spam folders in Outlook. Odds are your nonprofit is not emailing often enough to counteract the new norm of email filtering by email service providers.
If you are one of the 41% of nonprofits emailing monthly, experiment with emailing your list twice monthly. If you are in the 28% sending emails quarterly, begin sending emails monthly. Being overly cautious about sending email is detrimental to your digital marketing and fundraising strategy.

6) 74% regularly send email fundraising appeals. An email fundraising appeal is an email with the sole purpose of inspiring and asking donors to make a donation.

According to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report, 26% of online donors say that email is the communication tool that most inspires them to give. 25% said social media and 17% said it was an organization’s website that most inspires them to give.

7) 68% of nonprofits send email fundraising appeals quarterly. 20% monthly, 7% twice monthly, 3% weekly, 1% twice weekly, and 1% daily.

According to the M+R Benchmarks Report, for every 1,000 fundraising emails delivered, nonprofits raised $78 (up from $45 in 2020). If your nonprofit falls into the category of sending email fundraising appeals quarterly, you could be raising a lot more money by sending email fundraising appeals more often.

8) When asked about their fundraising experience with email fundraising appeals, survey participants responded:

38%: Our organization has raised the amount of money we expected.
24%: Our organization has raised slightly more money than we expected.
18%: Our organization has raised slightly less money than we expected.
11%: Our organization has raised significantly less money than we expected.
9%: Our organization has raised significantly more money than we expected.

Only 29% of nonprofit email marketing managers raised less money from email fundraising appeals than they expected – a relatively low number compared to other fundraising tools polled in the survey. That number would likely decrease to an even lower number if the nonprofits surveyed sent email fundraising appeals more often.

9) 40% of email marketing managers are the only person responsible for email marketing and fundraising at their organization. 60% share the responsibility with other staff.

10) 56% of nonprofit email marketing managers feel like they are fairly compensated for their employment.

11) 72% of email marketing managers check their work email in the evenings, 68% on the weekends, 63% in the early mornings, and 47% while on vacation.

Why the Open Data Project?

Most research about digital marketing and fundraising in the nonprofit sector is based on data from wealthy nations and thus often not applicable to charitable organizations worldwide. The Open Data Project [españolfrançais] was created to address that lack of diversity in data.

Open Data Project Sponsors

Eventgroove is a one-stop platform for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events that offers event management, online fundraising, ticketing, and online storefronts for print and digital merchandise.

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About the Author

Heather Mansfield is the founder and editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Tech for Good and producer of the Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising program. Fueled by a strong passion for the Internet, Heather spends her days (and some nights) helping nonprofits, charities, and NGOs worldwide utilize the internet as a tool for social good.