How 199 Nonprofits Are Emailing Donors And Subscribers In The First 45 Days

We recently partnered with NextAfter to create The State of Nonprofit Email Cultivation, a free research report analyzing how 199 nonprofits communicate with subscribers and donors in the first 45 days.

In order to better understand the donor and subscriber experiences, the team collecting the data signed up for email updates and became a donor by making a $20 one-time donation to those organizations. Over the course of the next 45 days, they tracked the emails they received.

Here’s why the first 45 days matter so much:

“…a person’s experience with an organization in this initial time period is critical as the first emails an organization sends often have very high open, read, and click rates. We also know people are most likely to make a 2nd gift or even upgrade to become a recurring donor in their first few months after making a one-time gift. And we know that email is a main driver of online revenue – not just in the form of asking for money, but through content, reporting, and cultivation.”

With that in mind, how did the nonprofits communicate with new email subscribers and donors through email in their first 45 days?

On the subscriber side:

  • Only 52% of nonprofits sent a clear confirmation of email signup or a cultivation email in the first 2 days.
  • 1.5% of cultivation emails were a survey.
  • 10% of organizations asked a subscriber to become a recurring donor.
  • Subscriber received an average of 11 emails per organization.
  • Subscriber received an average of 9 cultivation emails per organization.
  • Subscriber received an average of 5 solicitations per organization.
    • The median send time for the first solicitation was on Day 8. The highest daily volume of solicitations was on Day 31. By Day 45, the overall email volume was trending down. Over the course of those 45 days, they found subscribers received 2.9 cultivation emails for every one solicitation.

      Here’s what the data showed when it came to the donor experience:

    • 15% of nonprofits did not acknowledge a donation in the first 2 days.
    • 4.5% of cultivation emails were a survey.
    • 14.5% of organizations asked a donor to become a recurring donor.
    • Donor received an average of 6 emails total per organization.
    • Donor received an average of 5 cultivation emails per organization.
    • Donor received an average of 4 solicitations per organization.

        The median send time for the first solicitation was on Day 13. As with subscribers, the highest daily volume of solicitations was on Day 31. Over the course of those 45 days, the cultivation emails were trending flat while solicitation emails were trending up. Finally, they found donors received 1.6 cultivation emails for every one solicitation.

        When you sit down to review how your organization communicates with donors and subscribers, here are some key questions the report says you should consider:

      • Do you have a welcome series? And if so, how many emails are in it? How long does it go? Is it different for subscribers and donors?
      • Do you want to develop separate strategies, beyond a welcome series, for your subscribers and donors, simply have a different welcome series for each, or have a similar strategy with more personalization and customization? Will your tools even allow you to?
      • Do you send cultivation emails at all, and are you ensuring that the ratio of cultivation to solicitations isn’t incredibly disproportionate one way or the other?

        This is just a high-level look at one aspect of data collected in the robust report. If you want to learn more, you can download a free copy of the report here.