Recent surveys conducted by Convio show a wide discrepancy between the average funds raised annually, per email address, between various sectors of non-profit associations and organizations. Some vertical segments obtained nearly eight and a half times as much in donations for every usable email address than others. Much of the difference can be simply explained by the varying fundamental nature of the specific industry segments, but there are some details and trends that can point the way to increasing online revenue for any association or organization involved in fundraising.

Lists May Be Growing Too Fast for Appeals to Keep Pace
The total online funds raised for an overall email marketing campaign can be analyzed on how many dollars were donated per each email address on the list. This gauge allows the directors to be able to make accurate determinations of how online revenue is being generated based on the average for each online constituent. The Convio study found that the overall dollars raised through email across sectors dwindled to $6.10 per address in 2009 from $6.76 the previous year. The drop can be attributed not only to global economic indicators that were at the most severe lows in decades, but also to the burgeoning in subscriber email address list sizes. The lists of many organizations are growing at a very fast pace and this rate may be exceeding the capacity for fundraising approaches to drive home the motivation for making the donation.

Immediacy Gains Donations
The clear winner in the online revenue per usable email address stakes was the Team Events vertical segment, with an enviable $27.56, followed by Disaster & International Relief at $22.43. Team Events are primarily high profile appeals centering on highly publicized fundraising events such as runs, walks, bicycle rides or other similar events that are specifically created to raise awareness and funds for the organization and its goals. Disaster & International Relief fundraising is primarily driven by current events, and with the recent cascade of worldwide disasters both natural and man-made it is not surprising that their revenue per address is at an extremely high level.

Raising Funds for Long-Term Programs Is More Difficult
What the results of these two vertical segments can prove to all non-profit association and organization directors is that in order to be able to put forward a convincing and effective fundraising email campaign, the primary necessity is immediacy. Enormous disasters such as the recent one in Japan have galvanized the world’s attention and thus created a much more fertile environment for online donation solicitation. Team events are usually massively promoted through all major media in a concentrated geographic area, thus the awareness factor of the general public in that region is off the scale and this translates into an incentive for participation in time for the date of the event. Not surprisingly, a vertical segment such as Higher Education, which raises funds for various long term programs for colleges, universities and their alumni associations, has the lowest revenue per usable email address rate of all, at a mere $3.30.

Emotional Appeals Strike Resonant Chords in Donors
Approaching donors in emotional appeals goes beyond disaster relief, but also extends to various “heartstring” causes such as Hospitals, Medical Foundations & Research. This segment managed a third place showing at $19.36 per address, followed by Human & Social Services at $17.18 and Jewish campaigns at $16.41. All three of these segments are able to craft appeals that strike an immediate and resonant chord among supporters and thus can achieve high donation per email targets. In contrast, the appeals conducted by relatively more staid and static segments cannot take advantage of emotional entreaties and thus collect far less funds: Public Affairs is able to generate only $3.36 per address.

Immediacy and emotional appeal seem to be significant incentives for online donation solicitation. If your non-profit association or organization is not hitting the mark on these critical aspects, immediate attention is required to bring in the elements that will motivate your supporters to write that check.