92% of Nonprofit Statistics Are Useless

In the nonprofit world, there are a lot of statistics. They can be alarming, interesting, and even puzzling – but there is no shortage of them.



Here are just a few:

“The open rate for nonprofit emails is between about 15% and 17.5%, with appeals at the low end and advocacy and other emails garnering higher open numbers. Click-through rates have fallen across the board, though.” [source]

“88% of dollars raised comes from 12% of an organization’s donors.” [source]

“Email results in one-third of online fundraising revenue.” [source]

The Reality of Nonprofit Statistics

These statistics are interesting but the reality is – none of them are actually useful.

A 17% open rate on email is extremely low and a sign of a major problem. If this is an average, it’s a scary one. In addition, perhaps click-through rates have fallen across the board because most nonprofit emails are boring, not targeted and poorly timed.

For some organizations it makes sense that a large portion of the dollars raised come from a small segment of their donor base, but this is not the case for all organizations. Many organizations can raise more dollars from a broader base of donors.

Is it true that email results in one-third of online fundraising revenue?It doesn’t matter. You should focus on the activities that work for your organization and if email is bringing in dollars then keep at it.

The Problem With Nonprofit Statistics

Statistics like these are fun to read and share but often times they have little impact to your organization and very few provide any actionable insights.

It is in our nature to compare and benchmark our performance but we must not lead ourselves into the quicksand of average or be fooled by misleading metrics that provide little to no value.

The real opportunity for your organization, and for those you serve, is to become an outlier by demonstrating exceptional performance in all areas.

Ignore the status quo, discard the law of averages and focus on making your organization exceptional. If you don’t, your organization will become just another statistic.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi