Nonprofit online donations grew in 2013

Charities had a fair amount of success with their online fundraising tools last year. According to M+R's recent "2014 Nonprofit Benchmark's Study," online donations grew 14 percent year-over-year in 2013. Although email click-through rates weren't as high as years past, nonprofits still took advantage of the channel as email generated one-third of Web gifts last year.

Monthly donations also increased 25 percent in 2013 - which accounted for 16 percent of total online giving. Online giving has repeatedly increased over the past few years, which may have been driven by the fact that a nonprofit's online donation form is much quicker and easier to use as opposed to a tangible form that donors have to send in.

Digital channels see growth
In what may not come as a surprise, email lists grew 14 percent in 2013 as charities continued to compete with one another for donor dollars. While email open rates were slightly down last year, nonprofits received $17 for every 1,000 messages delivered, the study found.

Click-through rates were also lower than they were in 2012, but it seems as if benefactors found charities' websites through different channels. Social media growth has been evident in the sector as of late, and it seems to be paying off: Nonprofits received 60 cents per website visitor last year, which is a good sign of things to come because charitable organizations' websites saw a 16 percent increase in traffic during the same time.

Online networks play big role
Social media's influence has been a large help for nonprofits in regards to new donor acquisition and retention. According to a recent study conducted by technology management firm Virtual, 82 percent of nonprofits polled are using Facebook in their collection efforts. Another 54 percent are utilizing the real-time capabilities of Twitter. 

As a result, nonprofit social media audiences grew at moderate rates in 2013. More specifically, M+R's study found that Facebook fans increased 37 percent year-over-year while Twitter followers increased 46 percent last year. Despite the social success, there seemed to be a disconnect with nonprofits' email lists and their number of social media fans and followers. According to the study, for every 1,000 email subscribers a charity had, it had just 199 Facebook fans and 110 Twitter followers. Although Twitter has grown at a faster rate, nonprofits will still likely use Facebook to interact with potential benefactors and accept online donations.

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