The volume of non-profit emails increased in 2020 to a median average of 59 emails sent per subscriber, per the latest annual M+R Benchmarks report. Overall, non-profits reported a 17% increase in email volume over 2019.
Public Media organizations were the highest-volume senders in 2020, with a median average of 76 messages per subscriber, while Health and Disaster/International Aid non-profits each sent out the fewest emails per subscriber, at about half as many (39).
Continuing the trend from previous years, Fundraising emails accounted for the largest share of emails sent by non-profits last year, with a median average of 23 fundraising emails sent. Indeed, the volume of Fundraising emails sent by participating non-profits grew by 13% year-over-year (y-o-y).
Newsletter volume grew by 7.8%. This form of email is a favorite among Public Media organizations, with these non-profits sending out a median average of 58 newsletters per subscriber, compared to the overall average of 12. Advocacy emails were the only type to see volume fall (-8.9%) in 2020.
Email Lists Grow
Email lists grew by 3% over the year before. Hunger/Poverty email lists grew by a full 70%, followed by Public Media (32%), Rights (18%) and Wildlife/Animal Welfare (13%). While none of the non-profit sectors experienced a decrease in email lists last year, Disaster/International Aid, Environmental, and Health lists only grew by 1% each.
Fundraising Response Rates
The average response rate for fundraising emails last year increased by 41% y-o-y to 0.1%. Hunger/Poverty fundraising emails saw the largest increase in response rate (+184%), while Rights fundraising had the lowest rate of growth (+10%).
In terms of engagement, the open rate for Fundraising emails saw one of the biggest improvements, increasing to 18%. The average click-through rate, on the other hand, dipped to 1.7%.
Fundraising email open rates were highest among Hunger/Poverty groups, at a median open rate of 23%, while Disaster/International Aid (17%) and Rights (16%) had the poorest open rates.
Disaster/International Aid groups (2.3%) had the highest click-through rates for Fundraising emails, while Public Media had the lowest (1.2%).
Online Revenue from Email Increases
On average, email accounted for 19% of all online revenue for the non-profits sampled, up from 14% the year before. Rights groups gained the most benefit from email sends, receiving 18% of their online revenue from email solicitations.
On average, email-derived revenue saw a lift between 2019 and 2020, with $78 generated for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent. Hunger/Poverty non-profits generated $871 in revenue per 1,000 messages, growing an astounding 243% over 2019. On the other end of the scale, Rights groups generated the lowest return of $32 per 1,000 messages.
For more detail on email messaging, read the report here.
About the Data: The report is based on a survey of 220 non-profits who contributed data for the 2020 calendar year.