M+R Benchmarks


M+R Benchmarks is a key annual publication that covers digital fundraising extremely broadly. Unlike Giving USA, which aims to model all of the nonprofit fundraising data with broad strokes, M+R uses a small subset of organizations to get at both broad and deep questions in digital fundraising. So, while the results are extremely illuminating and often unique, they are heavily weighted towards their largest organizations and hard to judge how well they generalize to other large organizations, let alone mid-size and small organizations.

We love the benchmark for it’s depth on not just online fundraising, but email, text, and even digital ad-spend. We love the nuance (separating traffic & donations by device, diving into organic vs paid traffic, comparing text and email, and sharing deep Facebook data, which to date has provided little visibility), and think M+R provide deeper analysis than virtually anybody else.

Key findings (quoted from M+R):

  • Total online revenue grew by 10% in 2019. After extraordinary volatility following the 2016 election—a major spike in 2017 revenue, followed by relatively flat growth in 2018—this appears to represent a return to the expected long-term growth trajectory.
  • Email fundraising response rates increased by 1%. This is the first time we have ever reported a year-over-year increase in this metric, though some sectors reported sharp declines.
  • Facebook giving accounted for 3.5% of all online revenue. This giving is heavily concentrated around GivingTuesday, and especially significant for the Health sector.
  • Nonprofit Facebook posts reached fewer users relative to their audience size. An average post reached 9,100 users for every 100,000 followers a nonprofit had.

M+R shared: "GivingTuesday is indeed an important part of this picture. In our last Benchmarks Study, we found that November was far and away the biggest month for Facebook Fundraisers revenue. In 2019, that center of gravity shifted to December." Other GivingTuesday-focused findings include:

  • With GivingTuesday falling in December, 15% of all fundraising dollars came in December. “The emergence of Giving Tuesday has created a new center of gravity on that calendar.”
  • 33% of digital ad-spend happens in December

Ad-spend, split by channel and month

Other key findings:

  • Devices: Desktop is 50% of traffic, 61% of donations, and 69% of revenue. That said, mobile + tablet are still taking more of the share each year, increasing 11%, 17%, and 21% respectively.
  • Web visits: Only 44% of website traffic is organic; this organic traffic donates 0.17% of the time.
  • Text: Text is still small compared to email (7.2% as large), but shows more growth (26% vs 2%), and click-through is “far higher” than email. Donation conversion tracking is not yet available.
  • Digital Ads: Ad spending increased 17%. 43% of online revenue comes from donors who have seen an ad from the NP within the last 30 days, but ad spend is only 7% as large as total online dollars raised.
  • Cause: Lots of variation by cause; we took this as small sample-size issues.

The complete findings are available to explore for free at mrbenchmarks.com