Non-profit email volume decreased in 2019 to an average of 50 emails sent per subscriber, according to the latest annual M+R Benchmarks study. This represents a 2.1% decline in email volume year-over-year.
Wildlife/Animal Welfare non-profits were the highest-volume senders in 2019, averaging 81 messages per subscriber, while Health organizations continued the trend seen in 2017 and 2018, sending out the fewest number of emails per subscriber (45).
As in 2018, Fundraising emails constituted the largest share of emails sent by non-profits in 2019 – at an average of 22 of the 50 – and increased by 2.5% year-over-year.
All other email types decreased in volume, with the biggest drop being in Advocacy emails (-19%). Newsletter volume declined by -4.2%, despite being strongly favored by Public Media organizations in 2019 and in the previous year: these non-profits sent 48 Newsletters per subscriber, compared to the average of 11.
Email Lists Decline
After seeing growth in the past couple of years, emails lists experienced an overall decrease of 2% from the year before, with Hunger/Poverty groups seeing the largest decrease (-28%), followed by International (-19%) and Health (-18%) groups.
Rights (+7%), Environmental (+3%) and Public Media (+1%) groups were the only non-profit areas analyzed to see their lists grow in 2019.
Fundraising Response Rates
On an encouraging note, response rates improved last year for Fundraising emails.
In terms of engagement, click-through rate (CTR) for Fundraising emails saw the biggest improvement, increasing by 22% to a CTR of 0.56%. Open rates were also up, with an 11% year-over-year lift to 16.3%.
Fundraising email open rates were highest among Hunger/Poverty groups, at a median open rate of 20%, while Rights (13%) and Wildlife/Animal Welfare (13%) groups both had the poorest open rates.
Health groups (0.85%) had the highest click-through rates for these types of messages, more than double the rate of Rights groups (0.39%).
Online Revenue From Email Decreases
On average, email accounted for 16% of all online revenue for the non-profits sampled, down from 18% the year before.
Cultural groups gained the most benefit from email sends, receiving 26% of their online revenue from email solicitations.
On average, email-derived revenue did not change from 2018 to 2019, with $45 generated for every 1,000 fundraising messages sent. Public Media enjoyed the highest amount, generating $124 in revenue per 1,000 messages, having previously faced a 40% decline in revenues year-on-year in 2018. On the other hand, Rights non-profits generated the lowest return, of $21 per 1,000 messages sent.
For more detail on email messaging, read the report here.
About the Data: The report is based on a survey of 201 non-profits who contributed data for the 2019 calendar year.