What's an Email Address Worth To Your Nonprofit?

Don’t Delete Your Email Program Just Yet

Over the last few years, there has been a discussion about whether or not we are a “post-email” society.  Email use has been on the decline, especially among teens who are much more likely to text, SnapChat, and Tweet. In addition, many companies have moved to internal messaging systems, arguing that email is a time-waster.

 For the nonprofit organization, it is still working.

 Interesting Data Points from Annual Luminate Study

The annual Luminate Study by Blackbaud analyzes the email successes of more than 800 nonprofits who are users of Blackbaud’s online marketing tools. Even if you're not a Blackbaud user, the study offers some great benchmarks against which to compare your nonprofit's email marketing. The study analyzes a one-year period of time. The complete study is available online, but if you don't have time to read and digest all the numbers, here are a few data points I found noteworthy:    

  • Volume of Email Messages Sent by Nonprofits:  The 800 nonprofits in the study collectively sent 7.6 billion email messages. 
  • Frequency of Emailing:  The median number of email messages sent overall over the past 12 months is 144, a 60% increase over FY 2013 at 96!   That’s approximately 12 email messages each month.  Some of the messages were electronic newsletters, some were advocacy alerts, some were fundraising appeals, and some were other things.
  • Opens and Clicks:  Median open rate is 15.36%-18% (with appeal messages having the lowest open rate 15.36%). Median click through rate is lowest for appeal messages (.61%) and highest for advocacy messages (2.05%).  Across the industry, with few exceptions, click-through rates are going down.
  • Online Giving:  The number of gifts made, the total revenue raised online, and the average gift amount were all up, despite the fact that conversion rates were down.
  • Revenue Growth:  Median online fundraising revenue was up overall. 
  • What’s the Value of an Email Address?  The annual online revenue per usable email address for FY 2013–2014 is $12.46, down from $13.90 in the previous FY, with a median change of -4.87%.

Looking at strategies for 2015, don’t delete the email – at least not yet! To see how your organization compares, check-out the complete study available from Blackbaud.  The study breaks these metrics down by sector of the nonprofit world (animal rights, arts, higher education, human services, etc.).

Read more about the value of email for nonprofits here.