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Non-profits sent 11% more emails in 2017 than in 2016, averaging 66 messages per subscriber throughout the year, according to the latest annual M+R Benchmarks Study. Fundraising emails comprised the largest overall segment, at roughly 2 per month (25 annually), followed by Advocacy emails (17 per subscriber for the year).

Environmental groups sent out the most emails in 2017 again, with an average of 89 messages per subscriber, while Health organizations again sent the fewest emails, with only 38 total messages per subscriber.

Although Fundraising emails constituted the largest share of non-profit emails overall, some groups favored other types. For example, Public Media non-profits sent far more Newsletters than Fundraising emails, while Rights groups favored Advocacy campaigns.

Advocacy email volume grew the fastest overall, with a 23% year-over-year increase per subscriber.

Email Lists Grow

Even though email lists didn’t grow as much as in the previous 2 years, the non-profits surveyed on average saw their list sizes swell by 11%.

Small companies saw the biggest jump in their lists, with a 17% increase (down from a 21% increase in 2015), while medium-sized organizations fared the worst when sorting by size, gaining only 2% more subscribers.

Public Media organizations managed to collect a hefty 41% more email addresses, while International agencies were the only to see their lists shrink this year (by 8%).

Non-profits maintained a larger number of subscribers to their email lists than followers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Fundraising Response Rates

Perhaps as a result of increased volume, response rates didn’t show any improvements last year. The average open rate across message types stayed pat at 16%, while click-through rates declined for each specified message type.

Fundraising emails registered declines, however, in both open and click-through rates.

Cultural groups enjoyed the highest median open rate (25%) for Fundraising emails, while Health and International groups’ emails were only about half as likely to be opened (13% each).

Wildlife/Animal Welfare groups (0.7%) had the highest click-through rates for these types of messages, more than double the rate for their Rights group counterparts (0.33%).

Smaller non-profits, meanwhile, saw higher Fundraising email open and click rates than their larger counterparts.

Online Revenue From Email

On average, 28% of all online revenue for the non-profits sampled came from email. Despite lower response rates in 2017, email-derived revenues increased by 24% on the back of email list and volume growth.

The area that gained the most benefit from email sends was the Wildlife/Animal Welfare sector, which received 57% of its online revenue from email solicitations. For Public Media non-profits, email accounted for only 10% of online revenue, the lowest share of all non-profit types.

Overall, non-profits collected $42 per 1,000 Fundraising emails delivered. Hunger/Poverty groups averaged the greatest return per 1,000, of $138, whereas Rights groups managed only $32 per 1,000 emails.

There are dozens and dozens more statistics covering email, social media, conversion rates, and donations in the study, which is available for download here.

About the Data: The report is based on a survey of 154 non-profits who contributed data for the 2017 calendar year. The email data is from an analysis of almost 4.7 billion email messages sent to more than 53 million list subscribers. More than $738 million in online donations from 12 million online gifts and close to 17 million advocacy actions were also tracked.

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