A new report on online activism and fundraising has just been published by M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network.

Using data from 32 US charities for 2007 and 2008 (including Care International, Oxfam America, The Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and IFAW) and comparing this with two previous studies it presents a pretty comprehensive view of how the online market has been shifting over the last four years.

The 48 page paper is available for download here and is well worth a read. It may be about the US market, but it contains a huge amount of information that will be useful for fundraisers in other countries.

Highlights include:

  • Email open rates declined from 17% to 16% and click through rates fell by 0.5% to 2.4% (the decline is less pronounced than in previous studies).
  • The average number of emails sent to a subscriber list was 3.5 each month.
  • The number of online gifts increased by 43% over the year.
  • Total amount donated increased by 26%.
  • Average gift fell from $86 in 2008 to $71 in 2007.
  • Response rates for fundraising held steady at 0.12% across all sectors (the decline was most pronounced in the final quarter of 2008).
  • Fundraising emails sent to previous donors generated a response rate of more than three times than that from non-donors.
  • Alerts sent to previous action-takers on a given issue generated response rates three times higher than those sent to the full file.
  • In-house email lists continue to grow:
  • 2006 – 17%
  • 2007 – 19%
  • 2008 – 21%
  • 19% of email addresses died each year due to bouncing or unsubscribes.
  • Approximately 30% of all online actions are taken by just 7% of the file.
  • Though the number of emails sent in the run up to the US election grew dramatically, open rates, click-through rates and response rates did not suffer.
  • Open rates and click-through rates fall in December which correlates to an increase in message volume.
  • Average gift increases in December.
  • Unsubscribe rates are the same for informational and newsletter emails as they are for advocacy campaigns.They are very slightly higher for fundraising emails.

Thanks to @willmarlow