Forgive me for I have sinned.
It has been over a year since my last blog post! But what can I say – 2019 was a strange and busy year.
From a fundraising perspective, there were plenty of ups and downs – some of which left us questioning everything we knew (or thought we did) about why and how people give. In South Africa, we battled a shrinking economy that left many non-profits on the brink of disaster. But then somehow, against all the odds, many of our clients finished the year on an all time high!
How reassuring it was to find out that we are not alone. Amy Peyrot's item on the M+R Lab echoed much of what we took away from 2019 – and then some. This is what she wrote:
"Year-over-year EOY (end of year) growth is common, but not universal. About half of our clients saw overall gains in their online EOY fundraising from 2018 levels. About a third saw year-over-year decrease in online revenue, while the rest were about flat. No matter what your results, you have plenty of company.
The nonprofit fundraising landscape is evolving. Lots of groups saw strong performance from channels that haven’t traditionally had a big impact (like peer-to-peer texting). Some saw reliable channels become not so reliable. Donor behaviors are changing, new channels are emerging, and tools and technology are catching up. This year many groups were feeling the urgency (and seeing the benefits) of a programme that uses all possible ways to communicate with supporters in sophisticated ways.
Deliverability is a big deal (mostly in a bad way). Lower deliverability means lower response rates means lower email revenue, and many nonprofits struggled to land EOY appeals in inboxes this December. Those who spotted deliverability issues last year and took steps to improve their outlook (Microsoft Outlook pun extremely intended) saw increases in their email revenue.
Giving Tuesday keeps getting bigger. More and more nonprofits are expanding Giving Tuesday to a campaign that stretches over three or four days, with special offers, celebrity promotions, premiums, and matching gifts. Giving Tuesday revenue grew for most of our clients, even those that don’t promote it much.
Nonprofits who’ve invested in growing their mobile lists over the last few years are starting to see major returns. Text messages — at least so far — are less likely to get lost in a crowded inbox, so it’s a great way to get supporters’ attention. The numbers say it all — our 2019 Benchmarks Study found fundraising SMS messages average a 13% clickthrough rate, compared to 0.44% for fundraising emails! On fundraising-focused days like Giving Tuesday, text messages can have a big impact.
Peer-to-peer text fundraising is coming. For many nonprofits, it’s already here. Some of our clients used peer-to-peer text messaging to secure donations from page abandoners, thank donors, and connect with prospects.
Mobile optimization matters. If you’re a loyal reader of our annual Benchmarks Study, you know that mobile devices make up an increasingly large portion of nonprofit web traffic. One group saw mobile visits to their website in December increase 40% YOY. Serving up a smooth, compelling mobile experience will help convert those visits to revenue."
I have to admit that SMS fundraising is something I haven't tried yet – but certainly hope to do so this year. Are any South African non-profits already using this channel? Would love to hear about your experiences! Please email email@example.com.