2024 Results Are IN! 3 Key Takeaways for Fundraisers

Quick highlights from M+R’s 2024 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study

Let’s be honest… who among us has time to read long reports anymore? 

Maybe you’re the A++ student who carves out time to read the latest. If so, I applaud you! But in our fast-paced, ever-changing world, I know how rare it is, even for high achievers, to have a moment to think, not to mention dig into long reports on the state of nonprofit fundraising. 

Yet, here’s why I carved out some time to read the 2024 M+R Benchmarks Study

  1. It highlights trends and strategies in digital giving 
  2. It gets to the point
  3. It’s packed full of actionable insights for nonprofits
  4. It has great, interactive data  
  5. It offers key insights into so many different sectors – yours included (I hope!)  

Based on what I read, I’ve pulled out 3 key takeaways to share – takeaways I hope will give you a quick overview of the study and maybe even help you redefine success for your organization in the coming year…

If you’ve been wondering when fundraising is going to return to “normal,” M+R is showing less dramatic changes in terms of overall online revenue in 2022-2023 compared to years prior. Overall online revenue was about 1% lower than in the previous year, which they consider “flat” year over year.

What does that mean for fundraisers? Big, dramatic swings in giving are behind most nonprofits for the time being. The exception is when a global event (think: Ukraine, Israel) captures the attention and compassion of a larger-than-usual swath of people and giving levels show bigger lifts, then bigger drops.

Graph on direct mail data

I’m so glad that even though M+R Benchmarks Study focuses on digital, they thought to include this chart on direct mail! As they note in this report, in 2023, direct mail revenue declined by 6% (compared to 1% decline in digital revenue).

What you’re looking at above compares online revenue to direct mail revenue – and shows that on average, nonprofits raised slightly more revenue in digital than through direct mail. Overall, for every $1 of digital, $0.94 was raised through direct mail. 

You can see that some sectors, like Environmental, buck this trend with much stronger direct mail fundraising revenue (+$1.20), while some like Public Media were much lower (+$0.40).  

What does that mean for fundraisers? It’s good to be reminded that direct mail is a strong, dependable – and foundational! – revenue source for most nonprofits. But it’s also equally important to note that digital is no slouch when it comes to generating revenue. The combined power of a strong, integrated approach that includes both direct mail and digital campaigns is still a nonprofit’s most effective fundraising strategy.

bar graph for monthly giving as a percentage of online revenue

The rise of monthly giving over the past few years has been both notable and exciting to watch in nonprofit fundraising circles. As M+R notes, monthly giving accounted for 31% of all online revenue in 2023, up from 27% in 2022. Suffice to say, monthly giving is becoming a much heftier percentage of all online revenue! More importantly, this increase shows that monthly giving isn’t just a trend, but becoming a cornerstone of nonprofit revenue.  

Look closely at the chart above – look at those blue lines representing monthly giving! Just for a cursory glance, it’s easy to see that, by and large, those blue lines are showing much more robust growth across sectors than the orange lines representing one-time gifts.  

One last note – monthly givers also have high retention rates. Our BDI benchmark for retention rates for our clients is 66.8% 

What does that mean for fundraisers? Since more supporters are favoring the consistency of monthly giving, nonprofits should prioritize offering this as a regular giving option in both online and offline campaigns. Focus on developing a strategy and donor journey for these donors, and be sure to use a donation platform that makes it easy for supporters to set up a monthly gift and if possible, that “nudges” donors with monthly giving offers during the checkout process.

A few more even quicker hits from the M+R Report: 

  • Email: 16% of all online revenue (includes only gifts that came from users clicking on email donation links). 
  • Mobile Messaging: 14% increase in mobile messages revenue YOY. 
  • CTV (Connected TV) ads: 50% increase in spending in 2023. 
  • Social Media Channels: TikTok audiences for nonprofits increased by 112% in 2023. (Facebook and Instagram? 6% and 11%, respectively). 
  • Social Media Influencers: 50% of M+R Benchmarks participants reported working with social media influencers in 2023.
  • Last but not least – December giving! 26% of all online revenue came in during the month of December. Donations made on December 31 accounted for 5% of 2023 revenue.

If nothing else, the 2024 M+R Benchmarks Study shows just how quickly fundraising keeps changing. The continuing shift toward monthly giving, the power of integrated direct response programs and a growing number of channels show a broader movement of developing more sustainable, diversified fundraising strategies.

If you want to talk more about these benchmarks, please reach out! As a bonus, please check out our 2024 BDI Rescue Missions Benchmarks Study to learn more about these trends.

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  • Sarah Wallin

    Sarah Wallin, Vice President, Creative Director

    With more than 10 years of nonprofit and Rescue Mission experience, Sarah Wallin brings her expertise and imagination to the creative work at BDI. She draws from her background as a college English instructor and writing work for a variety of nonprofit clients like Boys and Girls Clubs, Goodwill of Los Angeles, Catholic Charities and Summit Ministries, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. 

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