From the Consultants
A pair of interesting afternoon links from the nonprofit management consulting world…
The folks over at M+R have posted the unabridged version of a conversation their Will Valverde had with Mediabistro reporter Patrick Coffee about their 2014 Benchmarking study. As I’ve written before, the study has a wealth of information about how nonprofits transmit messages to their respective communities and the general public. Email is still king, but click-through and response rates slipped for another year.
Valverde threw water on the idea, though, that email is “less successful now” because of that slippage. For starters, audience size for email grew by 14 percent. “From my perspective, a lot of these trends are less about what organizations are doing, and more about how people are using email and the internet more broadly,” Valverde said. “So as mobile increases its share of web traffic and our overall relationship with email and social media changes, there’s inevitably an impact on nonprofits.”
Valverde gave an example of someone opening an email on their mobile device on the bus but waiting until they get to their desk to make the donation. Such an email still counts as a failure in the way the data is captured, even though the email prompted the non-email channel donation.
Valverde also said that nonprofits’ politeness might be impacting email’s efficacy in raising dough. The advocates that sent the most messages (environmental groups), it turns out, raised the most money because they got twice the response rates of the industry average.
Meanwhile, some groups’ websites just suck. “Think of how much money is being left on the table by soft-pedaling the ask, hiding the donation page, and otherwise making it hard to give,” he said. “If you could optimize your web page to bring that 60 cents per visitor up to 65, 70, or more – and then multiply that by a growing audience – wouldn’t that just dramatically change your online program?”
The changes in behaviors Valverde describes may take awhile yet, according to a new survey of nonprofit groups’ technological investment priorities done by the Texas firm Charity Dynamics.
In surveying 332 nonprofits in three different revenue categories, the firm found that fundraising tools remain a high priority for investment in 2014 for a majority of organizations. Mobile tools, meanwhile, where more than half of those fundraising emails are actually read, was a high priority for only one in five respondents.
What’s more, only 3 percent of respondents identified a mobile app as their most desired addition in 2014. Just 8 percent chose an email marketing tool or social media management system. In contrast, 34 percent wanted chose website development as their most desired update.
The highest revenue advocates (>$20 million) are a bit ahead of this curve, with 29 percent reporting mobile as a high priority investment area.
Of course, many integrated systems and API tools allow users to have their desktop-based cake and eat it, too. While Charity Dynamics found that 41 percent of surveyed organizations would prefer an integrated solution, only 7 percent favored API.
In other words, nonprofits continue to plan to pump money into the known at the expense of planning for future capacity — which likely will grow revenue best as a long-term investment.