The volume of emails sent by non-profits was relatively flat in 2021 at a median average of 63 emails sent per subscriber, per the latest annual M+R Benchmarks report. Overall, non-profits reported a 1% decline in volume from 2020, a year after posting a 17% increase in email volume.
Disaster/International Aid organizations were the highest-volume senders in 2021, with a median average of 90 messages per subscriber, while Health non-profits sent out the fewest emails per subscriber, at less than half as many (40).
Continuing a historical trend, Fundraising emails accounted for the largest share of emails sent by non-profits last year, with a median average of 27 fundraising emails sent to each subscriber over the course of the year (or just over 2 per month). However, the volume of Fundraising emails sent by participating non-profits dipped by 1.2% year-over-year (y-o-y).
Advocacy email volume had the largest decline, though still by a modest by 2.5%. This form of email is most used by Rights and Environmental agencies, with these non-profits sending out a median average of 19 and 17 advocacy emails during the year per subscriber, respectively.
Email List Sizes Expand
Non-profits enjoyed growth in their email lists last year, with an average increase of 7% over the year prior, an improvement from growth rates in 2020 (4%) and 2019 (2%). Hunger/Poverty groups’ email lists grew by 18%, with Cultural (13%) and Rights (10%) organizations also enjoying above-average growth. While none of the non-profit sectors experienced a decrease in email list size last year, Environmental non-profits’ lists grew by a relatively muted 3%.
Fundraising Response Rates
The average response rate for fundraising emails last year declined by 11% y-o-y to 0.08%. In this case, response rate is calculated as “the number of people who took the main action requested by an email or text message divided by the number of delivered messages.”
Per the analysts, this response rate means that the average non-profit would need to send emails to 1,250 recipients to generate a single donation.
Looking at trends in response rates, Public Media fundraising emails were the only to experience an increase (+26%), while Hunger/Poverty fundraising emails had the largest decline (-42%) in response rate. Not surprisingly, response rates were much higher for fundraising asks to donor audiences (0.25%) than for fundraising asks to prospect audiences (0.04%).
How Much Online Revenue from Email?
On average, revenue-per-email saw a slight decline last year, with the $78 generated for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent representing a 3% decline from 2020. Hunger/Poverty non-profits generated $337 in revenue per 1,000 messages, while on the other end of the scale, Rights groups generated the lowest return of $34 per 1,000 messages.
Overall, non-profits’ online revenue grew by 3% last year. The average one-time gift was $125, while the average monthly gift was $25.
About the Data: The report is based on a survey of 187 non-profits who contributed data for the 2021 calendar year, and includes an analysis of 5,875,566,206 email messages.