Nonprofit Trends: The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study


Written by Matt Neu

December 14, 2016

If there’s one important takeaway from the 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study, it may be how rapidly the nonprofit universe is changing in the face of online fundraising, marketing, and advocacy efforts. Currently, in its tenth year, the study’s goal is to look at how nonprofits and their supporters are behaving today to help them prepare for changes in the future.

The following are five key facts from the 2016 study that would have been unimaginable in 2006:

  • 13% of online gifts were made from mobile devices. This is likely the result of both user preference and the decision by nonprofits to facilitate mobile access.
  • For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits had 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers – all up from basically zero in 2006.
  • Nonprofits invested four cents in digital advertising for every one dollar of online revenue. Considering that overall online revenue rose by 19% during the last year, digital advertising is increasingly important for identifying, acquiring, and converting new donors and retaining current ones.
  • Email volume increased substantially. On average, nonprofits in the study sent the typical subscriber on their lists 49 email messages in 2015.
  • Monthly giving accounted for 17% of all online revenue and grew by 24% across all sectors in 2015. In the first Benchmarks Study in 2006, only about half of the nonprofit participants offered a recurring giving program.

The study used data gathered from 105 nonprofit organizations of various sizes and in various sectors. The complete study is available at

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Matt Neu
I am a senior manager in the Manitowoc, WI, office where I provide audit services to nonprofit organizations, commercial entities, governmental entities and employee benefit plans. In addition, I work with compilation and review engagements. I joined Hawkins Ash CPAs in 1999 and am a member of the Employee Benefit Plan and Nonprofit Service Groups.

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