Nonprofits boost online donations

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Online software provider Convio released its Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Study in January, which found that online donation dollars are adding up, with a median growth rate of 27 percent.

The Austin, TX-based company found that money raised online for many nonprofit organizations grew from virtually nothing to a median annual amount of $362,485, with some organizations raising considerably more.

The findings were based on an analysis of the online donations, e-mail addresses, Web traffic and Web site registrations for 30 Convio clients from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006.

In addition to comparing organizations based on their vertical segment, Convio also compared panel participants with comparable organizational budget and e-mail file size.

The budget was determined using information from each nonprofit's most recent IRS Form 990 filing. Organizations were grouped into three size categories: small, medium and large. E-mail file size was determined by the total number of e-mail records in the Convio Constituent database as of June 30, 2006.

E-mail addresses were shown to be extremely valuable. Organizations with files of more than 100,000 e-mail addresses collected two to three times more online donations than those with smaller files. While the median rate of growth in e-mail files was 47 percent for the period of 2005 to 2006, organizations with e-mail files composed of fewer than 50,000 records grew the fastest at nearly twice the rate of the overall index.

Organizations with the most monthly unique Web site visitors were shown to have built the largest e-mail files. This relationship between Web traffic and file growth shows the importance of driving traffic to the Web as a file-building tactic.

The median unique Web site visitors over the year studied were 26,481 per month, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. The median registration rate for nonprofit Web sites was 2.8 percent. The Convio study concluded that midsize organizations (those with annual budgets of $5 million to $20 million) are growing online donations the fastest.

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