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Digging Into the Annual M+R Benchmarks Study

To some, spring means baseball, warmer weather, and blooming flowers. For nonprofit professionals it signals one other thing: The annual release of the M+R Benchmarks Study. With data compiled from more than 100 U.S. nonprofits of various sizes, this report provides helpful information for organizations to use as they plan their email, web, and social media strategies; identify areas where they need to improve their efforts; and projects they need to budget for. Because this report has so much revealing data, we give it a close read every year. Here are three findings from this year’s report that align with strategies we employ and that we think nonprofits should play close attention to.

On the Go

According to M+R, “the share of mobile traffic increased by 9% and accounted for 40% of nonprofit website visitors in 2017.” When every user is critical to advocacy or fundraising goals, nonprofits can’t afford to lose even a single one because their website is not mobile-friendly. Visitors need to be able to gain access to general information, sign up for emails, and donate whether they’re sitting at a desk or out on the town.

At Firefly we’re well aware of the move to mobile, and it’s something we consider with every website we build. Our designers are experts at choosing images, fonts, and colors that pop no matter their size. And our developers make sure that a site looks great and works correctly on phones, tablets, and desktops. The site we built for the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is a perfect example of responsiveness in action.

Donate Now, and Next Month, and the Month After That

The M+R study dives deep into fundraising data each year. One of their findings from this year that stood out is that, “revenue from one-time gifts increased by 19%, while monthly giving revenue increased by 40%.” The importance of recurring donations for nonprofits can’t be overstated: They provide a more reliable source of income and allow for more advanced planning and accurate forecasting.

Custom donation forms are one of Firefly’s specialties and we know when and how to enable recurring gift functionality. With this type of giving on the rise, organizations need to be on the button. We worked with Ohio University to remake their alumni donation forms in 2017, before their annual year-end fundraising campaign, and the number of recurring gifts they received tripled.

Return to Sender

Email marketing is an ever-changing world, with new trends emerging constantly. So, what really grabbed our attention in the M+R study? “Nonprofits sent an average of 66 email messages per subscriber in 2017. This marked a 11% increase in volume from 2016.” The result of this increase is that nonprofits have the challenge of sending emails that stand out in overflowing inboxes.

First things first: ensuring that emails are responsive is no longer negotiable. It’s why we code and test all templates so it’s easy for clients to produce emails that work for popular email tools, no matter what device viewers are using. (And we’re not shy about sharing our testing policy.) We build beautiful and unique templates that attract attention and we encourage list segmentation so that constituents are only getting emails they really care about. In our work with the National Marrow Donor Program, we developed a four-month email testing strategy and ran A/B tests on email layouts to identify the design that would most effectively increase conversion rates.

The M+R study is full of useful data, but it can also be overwhelming. Don’t let the stats and trends get you down. Firefly is here to help: Our portfolio highlights just a few of the many ways we can help you meet and exceed your goals. Get in touch today.

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