The yearly M+R Benchmarks report is one of my favorite to dive into. A ton of relevant and useful fundraising and marketing data!

This year’s report didn’t disappoint. Below I share with you some of the findings from the report and my insights into the various stats. My goal is to help your nonprofit learn and grow!

All data points below are directly taken from the M+R report.

One note before we head into the deep end: Most of the data points below are not great. Some are really bad.

But that doesn’t mean your nonprofit can’t do better! The fact is that organizations who plan, strategize and know best practices are able to succeed even in times of economic uncertainty and high inflation. Yours should be one of them.

The cover of the 2024 M+R Benchmarks Report

Let’s Talk Dollars

Data point: Average online revenue declined by 1% in 2023

My thoughts: Basically online revenue was flat year over year. Not great.

Yes, inflation. Yes, economic uncertainty. Yes, a big portion of revenue is coming from major donors who aren’t donating via credit card online.

But there’s an opportunity here being missed: Tens of billions of dollars are raised online each year. If

  • Nonprofit websites did a better job at communicating their mission, who they help and their impact
  • Nonprofit email was more engaging and the content varied
  • Nonprofit social media posts were more… engaging (sorry, using that word again)
  • Nonprofits had a real desire to use online platforms to connect, engage and build relationships- instead of hyper focusing on money money money

More money would be raised online. Plain and simple.

Data point: Revenue from monthly giving increased by 6% and accounted for 31% of all online revenue

My thoughts: WOOHOO!

Monthly givers are some of your best donors, with a potential retention rate of 90% and higher lifetime giving. I wish more organizations would establish proper monthly giving programs as it would help them attract more donors, especially younger ones.

And when I say “proper monthly giving programs” I don’t mean just offering it on your online donation form. I mean a strategy to build a sustainable, long-term recurring giving program. Give it a name, a special welcome for new donors, extras for the monthly givers and more.

Ya know where some of your planned givers will come from? Yup, your monthly givers. Establish a solid monthly giving program and your organization will be better off financially today, tomorrow and beyond.


Data point: Revenue from one-time giving fell 5%

Data point: If we consider only new donors — those who made their first online gift in 2022 — the retention rate was just 23%. 

My thoughts: Are the above two connected? Maybe yes, maybe no.

The fact is that retention in our sector succccccccccccks. You get 100 new online givers in 2022 and only 23 give again in 2023?! Well yeah makes sense that revenue would go down!

Look, the simple solution- and the hardest!- is to make a switch and understand that fundraising and marketing is NOT about the money. It’s about building relationships.

Do well at that and you’ll see more revenue, even in tough financial times.


Data point: In 2023, nonprofits saw direct mail revenue decline by an average of 6% from the previous year. 

My thoughts: This one kills me.

Direct mail is still king when it comes to revenue. If donations from direct mail is down and online revenue was flat, a lot of nonprofits fell short of their financial goals in 2023.

And that’s not a good thing.

I worked in small shops for nearly two decades. I know the pain points, the stresses and pressures. The problems begin and end with a focus on money. Your donors are focused on doing good in their community, having impact, helping people. If you’re not using all the tools at your disposal to consistently and constantly update supporters and instead they only hear from you when you want a donation…

Don’t be shocked by the results.

Send more emails!

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Send Those Emails!

Data point: Email revenue declined by 7% on average.

My thoughts: Lemme count the reasons why.

  • You’re not emailing enough! You heard me- email MORE! People WANT to hear from you consistently and constantly
  • The vast majority of your emails are fundraising asks. Those get real old real quick and fewer people will open your emails, let alone read or click or take action and give. Time to work on creating a variety of content
  • I read and analyse thousands of nonprofit emails each year. A majority just aren’t engaging. Readers stop opening when there’s no effort on your part to connect with them

I work with nonprofits on their email programs. When done right, CTR doubles in a short time, conversions get a boost and more money is raised.

Email builds relationships. But that will only happen when you’re dedicated to using email to share stories, update donors about the impact they’re having in their community, present data, show gratitude and share content they want to read.

You CAN raise more with email. But that won’t happen if your email focus is on money money money.


Data point: The average response rate (the percentage of email recipients who completed a gift) for fundraising emails was 0.07%, a 16% decrease compared to 2022. The average click-through rate (the percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link in the message) was 0.54%. Of those who clicked through to the donation page, 15% completed a gift.

My thoughts: Sigh.

If you sent a fundraising campaign email to 10,000 subscribers…

  • 54 would click your call to action button
  • Of those 54, 8 would donate.

Look at those numbers again: 10,000 emails sent = 8 donations.

Does that sound good to you?

But more importantly let’s consider those who did NOT click thru. There’s a whole mess that didn’t even open the email. There are plenty more who opened but the design and copy weren’t engaging so they didn’t bother to click the CTA button.

Of the 54 who DID click thru, only 8 completed the donation process. The other 46? Maybe they hit the CTA button by mistake or there’s a major issue with the online donation form and the vast majority of people aren’t giving.

You need to find out why people aren’t opening, why they’re not reading, why they’re not clicking and definitely dive into why they’re not completing your online donation form.

I know you’re pressed for time. I know you have a trillion other things to do. But the emails you’re sending aren’t working and even when they do, the vast majority of people are coming to your giving form and not giving.

Your emails can do WAY better than the average. There’s a TON of money to be raised online. But ya gotta wanna get it and ya gotta do it the right way.


Data point: One way to see the impact of declining email metrics is by looking at email revenue per 1,000 fundraising emails sent. In 2023, nonprofits received an average of $76 in revenue for every 1,000 fundraising appeals — which is to say, a single fundraising email landing in a single inbox was worth about seven and a half cents. This figure is substantially lower than what nonprofits saw in 2022. The average change in revenue per 1,000 fundraising emails was a 20% decline.

My thoughts: Woah. That’s a steep decline year over year!

Fewer clicks, fewer donations given, less money given.

Craft a proper email strategy and you’ll see the exact opposite of all three.

The Magical Month Of December

Data point: December giving made up 26% of all online revenue and 34% of one-time online revenue. Donations made on December 31 accounted for 5% of 2023 revenue.

My thoughts: The month of December is the biggest giving month of the year. So yes, that’s when you want your fundraising emails to shine. People are in a giving mood and they do donate.

Data point: Overall, 34% of online revenue from one-time gifts came in during December, 2023. November was the next-highest month, at 15%, with revenue in every other month ranging between 3% and 5% of the overall total.

My thoughts: Giving Tuesday is in November so it’s no surprise that November is second place.

However, giving on GT 2023 was flat. It didn’t surpass GT 2022’s donation total. Couple that with overall online giving and direct mail being down, some of you reading this did not hit your goals in 2023.

Question: What did your organization do if that was the case? Let staff go? Cut salaries? Stop working with consultants?

As a former CEO of a small shop, I get it. Your first instinct is to lower expenses. But doing so doesn’t help you raise even $1 more. All you’ve done is put more pressure, stress and anxiety on the staff you kept.

They can’t function when scarcity mindset takes over. They can’t raise more just because you demand they do so.

There are ways to go from survival to thrival. Yes, some of them cost money. But when it comes to the short and long-term health of your nonprofit, you need to choose:

Constant stress vs. Piece of mind.

You already know that fundraisers move jobs on average every 18 months. Know why? I just explained why.


Data point: Online revenue was 7% lower on December 31, 2023 than it was on December 31, 2022. For email, revenue on the final day of the year declined by 10%. Overall, December revenue was 4% lower overall in 2023, while email revenue declined by 2%.

My thoughts: I was really interested to see this.

In 2023 the end of the year fell on a weekend. I wondered what people would do: Would they ignore emails from nonprofits because they’re in vacay mode or because they’re not at work they’d have more time to read fundraising emails?

I have no idea about opens but the data tells us that online revenue on the final day of the year (one of the four BIGGEST giving days of the year) was down 10%.

Could be a combo of December 31 was a Sunday plus poorly written emails. Could be one or the other. We’ll have to wait a year and compare 2024 to 2023 to know for sure.


Data point: The majority of nonprofit website traffic came from users on mobile devices (including both phones and tablets). Mobile users represented 52% of all visits, with 48% of traffic from users on desktop devices. Users on desktop devices made up the majority of donation transactions (67%) and revenue (78%).

My thoughts: They read about you on their phones but they give when they sit down at their computer.

  • Make sure your website is mobile friendly! If it’s not people simply won’t read, engage, take action.
  • When’s the last time YOU made an online donation to the organization you work for? Go ahead. Do it now. Donate $5. I’ll wait… Was it a smooth process or full of friction? Easy to fill out or way too many fields? Now think how potential donors see your online donation form. If it presents any friction, they’ll bounce and go elsewhere with their donor dollar.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Data point: Fundraising mobile messages generated $92 in revenue for every 1,000 messages sent.

My thoughts: Texting is one of the most underutilized platforms for fundraising and marketing. Which is too bad- 95% of people open a text within three minutes of receiving it.

You won’t get anywhere near that kind of open rate with email or direct mail.

You have current and potential supporters who prefer to be communicated with via text. You can use text to tell stories, share updates, post data and impact. You can build relationships with text and yes, raise more money.

Giving donors a choice of how they want to hear from you and how they want to give should be a priority. Don’t limit people’s choices! Add text to your fundraising and marketing efforts in 2024.

As I said at the top, the M+R Benchmarks report has a ton of great data. Take some time, read through it and see where your nonprofit can improve, upgrade and grow.