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2010 Performance Benchmarks for Nonprofits

Lori Halley 12 April 2010 1 comments

barchartmeeting Benchmarking may sound like a term from the big-business board room, but it’s a useful practice for nonprofits of any size. It simply means the process of identifying key milestones against which you can check your organization’s performance, to identify any areas where you might be lagging behind, and to better understand where you’ll need to focus your efforts and resources in order to reach your goals.

While you can and should set your own internal performance benchmarks, it can be helpful, too, to look at benchmarks for the nonprofit sector in general, to see where your organization stands. 

Here are four important benchmarking reports – three available now and one to be released shortly – to get you started:

2010 Nonprofits Benchmarks Study To Be Released

M+R Strategic Services and NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network will release their new eNonprofit Benchmarks Study on Thursday, 29 April 2010.  The annual study analyzes online messaging, fundraising, and advocacy data from 32 leading nonprofit organizations, highlighting “key industry changes that should be on your radar”:

For example, some key findings of the 2009 study include:

  • Online fundraising was up by 26%.
  • Email fundraising and advocacy response rates held steady this year, compared to declines in previous years.
  • The average online gift size was $71, down $15 from the previous year. This decline was most pronounced in the fourth quarter of 2008.
  • Email lists continue to grow, though more slowly every year: growth was at 17 percent in 2008, down from 19 percent in 2007 and 21 percent in 2006.

If you’re going to be in Washington, DC, you can attend the release event in person (RSVP here) – or register to attend the live web cast, and they will send you the information once it is available.

3 More New Nonprofit Benchmarking Reports

M+R has released two other studies of the nonprofit sector that may interest you as well. Key findings from each of these studies are available to read online, and you can download the full reports (free) by filling out a simple contact form:

A joint venture between M+R and MobileActive.org, the aim of this study is to provide benchmarks and metrics by which nonprofit organizations can measure their success with text messaging, and to illustrate the various ways in which organizations are using text messaging.

[This study’s] goal is to help organizations – no matter their size – develop meaningful metrics for their social network outreach…. Five major national nonprofit organizations took part in our Facebook research; data from ten organizations was used for our Twitter analysis.

Also, NTEN and The NonProfit Times have just released their annual IT Staffing and Spending Report.

Organizations face difficult challenges – from insufficient data and lean budgets to overworked staffs – just trying to keep up with changing technologies and trends, and with the rest of the sector. [The Nonprofit IT Staffing and Spending Survey] gives us a good look at the state of nonprofit staffing, and helps us provide organizations with information to help evaluate the state of their IT spending.

Insights from 2008’s survey of 243 nonprofits, with respondent organizations of widely varying sizes from many different fields, held good news for smaller nonprofits: size doesn’t matter when it comes to technology effectiveness! Download the 2009 report (free) at NTEN.org to find out what’s been going on with nonprofit technology this past year.

What other benchmarking studies can help you to measure your nonprofit’s performance?
As always, please share your links and tips in the comments –


Image credit: LuMaxArt /via Flickr

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 12 April 2010 at 4:03 PM


  • A.J. said:

    Monday, 12 April 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Benchmarking is SO important for non-profits; many NP managers don't have clear ideas of how they measure up in the field, fundraising-wise and the benchmark studies you mentioned are a good way of at least becoming familiar with what other non-profits in your sector are doing.  I wrote about the Convio benchmark study here: http://donationpay.org/blog/2010/04/reality-check-convios-report-on-non-profit-marketing/

    Keep up the great posts!


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