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Blackbaud Luminate Online® Benchmark Report Highlights


The 16th annual Blackbaud Luminate Online Benchmark Report is here! We look forward to this report every year. It’s a reliable touchstone to identify giving trends as well as shifts in sustainer and email engagement in the nonprofit digital space. It’s also a valuable tool to help nonprofits evaluate their results by giving them a comparison point for their performance against organizations of similar sizes and issue areas.

To encourage you to download and read the full report, we are sharing a few highlights we think you will find particularly compelling.

Key Takeaways

Sustainers Rule

If we could give 2022 a nickname, we would call it the Year of the Sustainer. When looking at online benchmarks and digital revenue, we saw that any growth or ground held was due to increases in sustainer metrics.

Sustainer benchmarks are up in all categories for all verticals in:

  • Numbers of sustainers
  • Revenue from sustainers
  • Percentage of total revenue from sustainers

This is welcome news. The annual and lifetime value of a sustainer is usually higher than the average one-time giver because one-time givers are only retained at around 20%, according to Giving USA.

Barriers to Email Measurement Keep Rising

Measuring email performance has changed, and it continues to become more difficult. Open rates have become overinflated due to machine opens and, for the first time in 16 years of producing this report, we have determined that open rates are no longer a metric we can include.

Click rates are still worth tracking, although click rates can also be slightly inflated due to security devices that pre-click all links to see if they pass security checks. The only completely reliable metric to measure email performance is conversion rate, which presents its own challenges, since conversion rates always lag behind open and click rates. Gains in conversions are slight and two degrees of engagement removed from opens, so it’s necessary to measure with extreme precision any changes in conversion rate relative to your tests.

Email Acquisition Is Making a Strong Showing

Email lists are growing both in total and usable house file sizes.Despite the challenges of acquiring new emails and keeping email recipients engaged, organizations’ email lists actually grew in size. Unsubscribe rates did not change much. In fact, they actually declined a bit which means fewer people unsubscribed compared to the previous year.

The growth in usable house file size means that nonprofits were doing a good job of sending emails only to their engaged subscribers. Email list hygiene continues to grow in importance for maintaining a healthy list, since engagement means subscribers are more likely to see messages in their inboxes.

Putting Benchmarks into Action

What does all this mean for nonprofit marketers and fundraisers? Here’s what the data is telling us to do to improve online engagement:

  • Write more engaging emails:Focus on content that people want to see and are motivated to click.
  • Lose the gimmicks:Work to improve all the elements in your email toolkit—creativity, usability, design, and authenticity—because email subscribers are becoming more skilled at spotting misleading or clickbait tactics.
  • Pivot to a sustainer-first strategy: Organizations that are making sustained giving part of the fabric of their organizational and donor culture will realize more success year over year.

Download the full Blackbaud Luminate Online Benchmark Report here and see how your performance stacks up!

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