State of the Sector: 3 takeaways from the 2015 M+R Benchmark Study


Each year consulting firm M+R Strategic Services conducts a nonprofit study to identify industry standards for online fundraising, advocacy, and list building. The 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study, conducted in collaboration with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), analyzed social media practices, website giving, and email fundraising practices from 84 nonprofits.

Participating nonprofits were examined on eight categories: domestic hunger & poverty, international, rights, environmental, health, wildlife & animal welfare, cultural, and miscellaneous. For 2015, data from cultural institutions such as; museums, libraries and history groups were included for the first time. Here are a few takeaways from this year’s study:

  • Email list sizes are increasing: Nonprofits saw an email list size growth of eleven percent in 2014, which shows organizations are still growing their email audiences.  Organizations have also seen an increase in Open rates and Click-through rates in the past year. But this increase can be largely attributed to the modern practice of suppressing inactive email contacts.
  • Social Media is growing: Social media audiences are still much smaller than email list sizes, but participating nonprofits found that social media grew at a significantly faster rate in 2014. While social media may not produce as many direct donations, it remains one of the most useful ways to get important information to your online audiences. The study also found that Facebook outperformed all other platforms in almost every sector that established multiple social network
  • Online Giving is growing in popularity: Online monthly giving expanded by thirty-two percent in 2014, compared to nine percent for one time giving. Factors that could be driving this trend are nonprofits actively recruiting monthly givers and donors looking to donate on a more consistent basis. Overall, online revenue increased by thirteen percent in 2014, and environmental, health and rights groups saw.

Okechukwu Ukah is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in Sociology with a Certificate in Fundraising and Philanthropy. He is very passionate about fundraising and local politics. After graduation, he plans to work in the non-profit sector while staying involved with Iowa City politics.


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