FYI Blog

What does Netflix have to do with online fundraising?

The Blackbaud Luminate Online Benchmark Report for 2017 is out, with its always-fascinating take on the ups and downs and breakthroughs in online fundraising.
This study looks at the metrics of more than 700 non-profits (all Blackbaud Luminate Online customers) to provide overall benchmarks, with those 700 organizations categorized into appropriate sectors, or verticals.
There are 13 different verticals—with four (animal welfare, arts and culture, environment and wildlife, food banks) directly applicable to Avalon’s clients.
A few takeaways:

  • What stood out most to me was the 20% growth in sustainer revenue over the prior year. Blackbaud interprets this growth as mirroring growth in the for-profit sector for subscription-based services: think Netflix and Spotify. People are becoming more inclined to subscribe to get the services (or, in our case, support the causes) they prefer.


  • Email lists grew 10%, the number of emails sent increased by 15%, and online revenue was up 10%. The short-term gain from the increased emailing was more gifts—but, as we could expect with the increased sends, open and click-through rates went down.


  • So if you increase how often you email supporters, make sure you’re also paying attention to segmentation and messaging—really pinpointing those most likely to respond, with a message that is compelling to them.


  • Response rates for donation emails stayed exactly the same at 0.04%, telling us that when people opened an email and clicked a link, they were more inclined to complete the process and donate. Another way to interpret this stat is that people only opened and clicked if they were intending to give.

We find Blackbaud’s Benchmarks to be excellent measures of where the industry is, and encourage you to take a look at the entire report. As a reminder, the best benchmarks for our clients are their own stats and experience. So take a hard look at your organization’s own metrics to gauge how they’re doing year over year.