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Volume XV, Number 1, Spring 2010
Issue Topic: Scaling Impact
Katie Chun of Harvard Family Research Project describes new studies that help nonprofits assess the success of their online and text-messaging strategies.
In 2007, The Evaluation Exchange featured the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, a research effort by M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network that developed metrics to measure the effectiveness of nonprofit online advocacy and fundraising efforts.1 Recent releases from this effort and others offer new findings on benchmarks for electronic communications.
2010 Nonprofit Social Media Benchmarks Study
This study by M+R Strategic Services helps nonprofits develop meaningful metrics for their social media efforts. It focuses on Facebook and Twitter as the most popular social media platforms. The Facebook analysis looked at the activity of five well-known nonprofits.2 The Twitter analysis examined data on 10 diverse organizations that are among the most successful based on their number of followers.3
2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks
This first-of-its-kind report from M+R Strategic Services and MobileActive.org offers benchmarks for text messaging and describes how nonprofits are using this medium. The study looked at list size, broadcasts, fundraising, and advocacy data from six organizations.4 Key findings include:
2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study
This study from M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network updated findings from their original study on online messaging, fundraising, and advocacy. Data reported in the new study are from 2007–08 and were submitted by 32 leading nonprofit organizations (the original study used 2003–05 data).
The 2009 study responded to questions about, for example, the effects of the financial crisis on online fundraising and email response rates. Data were collected from key national nonprofits and major providers of nonprofit online communications and marketing programs, as well as from an online survey of the broader nonprofit community.
The new data show that the 2 years before the study’s release were a time of exponential growth and innovation for online activism. Many nonprofits, for example, tried to capitalize on the success of popular social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Many also tried to emulate the online strategies used by the 2008 presidential campaigns.
Other highlights from the study include:
To learn more about these studies and to access new reports as they are released, go to: www.e-benchmarksstudy.com.
Graduate Research Assistant, Harvard Family Research Project
1. Matheson, K. (2007). The eNonprofits benchmarks study: Diving into email metrics. Evaluation Exchange, 8(1), 25. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from: www.hfrp.org/evaluation/the-evaluation-exchange/issue-archive/advocacy-and-policy-change/the-enonprofit-benchmarks-study-diving-into-email-metrics.
4. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and Human Rights Campaign.
5. Lenhart, A. (2009). Adults and social network websites. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved July 23, 2009 from: www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Adults-and-Social-Network-Websites.aspx.