As more and more organizations, and software service providers report 2010 results, it’s clear online fundraising continues to grow at a significant pace.

The latest to report is Convio, Inc., who today released the results of its annual Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark IndexTM Study. The results confirm that online is the fastest growing fundraising channel for nonprofits. In 2010, Convio’s clients raised more than $1.3 billion online, up 40 percent from 2009. The study shows that online engagement continues to play a crucial role for nonprofits: online legislative advocates grew 20 percent, email files continued to grow at a median 22 percent across all sectors and gift sizes increased in 2010.

The study is designed to help nonprofit professionals evaluate beneficial online marketing metrics, evaluate the effectiveness of their organization compared to similar organizations and determine strategies for future success. The study focused on key areas related to online success, including website traffic and registration, email file health, online fundraising, online communications and advocacy.

Key findings of the study include:

Online fundraising continues to grow. Overall, 79 percent of organizations included in the report raised more in 2010 than 2009, while 21 percent saw declines in their online fundraising. All but three verticals (Association & Membership, Public Broadcasting Stations and Team Events) had a growth rate greater than 10 percent.

Advocacy continues to play an important role. Total number of advocates on file increased by 20 percent, and 6.4 percent of advocates on file were also donors, up from 5.9 percent in 2009. An increase in gift count and average gift size primarily drove fundraising gains. Of those that grew fundraising in 2010, 88 percent saw an increase in the number of gifts and the average gift size grew more than $8 in 2010. This indicates more people are moving online to give even if inspired through other channels.

Email files continued to grow strongly. The median total email file grew 22 percent to 48,700 constituents. The increase in people engaging online means organizations need to ensure their communications and fundraising asks match the channel preferences for their constituents if they hope to maximize the value of each relationship.

Episodic Giving

While events such as the Haiti earthquake certainly had an impact on online fundraising in 2010, the efficiency and timeliness of online and other digital forms of engagement is creating more opportunity for organizations to reach people and engage them in a deeper relationship. Giving around Haiti relief efforts accounted for approximately 20 percent (or $250 million) of the $1.3 billion raised online by Convio clients. The vertical most impacted by the Haiti event was the Disaster & Relief vertical, growing 38 percent from 2009 to 2010. Independent of the Haiti event, however, Disaster & Relief still grew at a healthy 23 percent from 2009 to 2010. Haiti was an episodic event that highlights the ever-increasing influence of online fundraising as an efficient and immediate outlet for donors interested in responding quickly to events or issues that impact the causes they support.

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