The numbers speak, if you know how to listen. It takes patience and diligence to sort the meaning from the background noise. It takes a bit of courage too, at times, to hear difficult truths. But the data we collect with every web visit, email, social media post, and mobile message can tell us where our programmes are thriving, where we are falling behind our peers, and where the next opportunities lie.

The annual M+R Benchmarks Study is a concerted effort to listen to the data and sort out its meanings. For the first time this year, we are turning our attention to a key fact: sometimes, when the numbers speak, they do so with an accent.

Discussion of the digital space is very often dominated by a US-centric perspective. Thanks to our friends at Rally and 55 generous, wonderful, kindhearted UK-based organisations, we are able to broaden our scope and explore the similarities and differences in nonprofits’ strategy and supporter behaviour.

Rally has been a driving force not only in this Benchmarks report, but in encouraging UK charities to develop ambitious, data-driven digital strategies. Our hope is that the findings in this report will help organisations diagnose challenges and spot opportunities for radical change.

The data and analysis included here cover 2019 and 2020 data, and reflect the unique experiences and results of UK organisations. You will also find direct comparisons to data from US-based nonprofits, which we hope will provide useful context and a bit of inspiration.

The combined findings from both US- and UK-based participants can be found in the full M+R Benchmarks Study. When you’re done here, we encourage you to read through the analysis in the full study.

M+R Benchmarks Study 2021

Publisher: Madeline Stanionis
Editor in Chief:
Will Valverde
Researcher in Chief:
Theresa Bugeaud
Data and Analytics Contributors:
Jonathan Benton, Danielle Feinstein, Kristen Friedel, Sammy Stewart
Graphics Department:
Emily Giorgione, Laura Klavon, Olivia Moore
Web Development:
Tom Giordano, Bobby Burch
Rally Correspondents:
Paul de Gregorio, Fiona Pattison
Digital Ads Reporters:
Matt Derby, Gwen Emmons
Web Analytics Reporter:
Karen Hopper
Email Reporter:
Jonathan Benton
Social Media Reporter:
Marjory Garrison
Membership Reporter:
Yoonhyung Lee
Mobile Messaging Reporter:
Kyle Shepherd
Recruitment Manager:
Lucy Midelfort
Project Manager: Bobby Goldstein
Additional Contributors:
Jeff Gang, MB Gowins, Anne Paschkopić, Liz Thaler

Your M+R Benchmarks News Team

We are M+R.

We are communicators, marketers, fundraisers, campaigners, and mild-mannered muckrakers who unleash the power of people to do good.

We work exclusively with nonprofits who are alleviating suffering, fighting for human rights, working in solidarity with marginalised communities, building a more equitable world, ensuring a sustainable future, making art and knowledge accessible to everyone, and safeguarding democracy so that it does not die in darkness.

We’d love to help you deliver real change. Find us at www.mrss.com

Rally, Our UK Partner

Rally, founded by Paul de Gregorio in 2018, is a new type of partner for progressive organisations. They’re not a conventional agency — more of a hub or collective, They mobilise public support behind world changing organisations and causes fighting for a fairer, healthier, safer, greener, more equal world. Through collaborations they inspire people to take action. To sign up, turn up, donate, amplify or lead others. And they do most of it, though not all of it, online.

You can find out all about them at www.wearerally.co.uk

How to Read the Charts

This is news to no one: the last year has not been an easy one. [Editor’s Note: We had initially included a list here of reasons why the last year was hard, but it was very long, and very sad, and so we removed it. We know you know.]

And yet. The data shows that supporters rose to the occasion in all sorts of ways. In fact, the very existence of this data demonstrates the remarkable, inspiring commitment of our nonprofit participants. Through everything, you not only did this incredible work — you shared your time and data to help inform our findings here. Thank you.

Most of our charts include a topline metric labeled “All.” This number represents the median figure for a given metric for all participants who reported data. We use median rather than mean for several reasons; most importantly, we strive to ensure that a particular participant, or a particular sector, with unusual results does not skew our overall findings. That’ll make a lot of sense when you see the results for Hunger and Poverty nonprofits for 2020.

Wherever possible, we have broken out the findings by sector. Each of our participants self-identified the appropriate sector (or, in some cases, fell outside of our defined sectors and selected “Other”). If you are not sure which sector represents your peer group, review the full list of participants to find where you belong.

We also sort our participants by size. For our Study, “Small” refers to nonprofits with annual online revenue in 2020 below £500,000; “Medium” includes those nonprofits with online revenue between £500,000 and £3,000,000; and “Large” covers all those with online revenue greater than £3,000,000.

Not all participants were able to provide data for every metric. If a chart does not include data for a certain sector or size, it’s because we were not able to collect enough results to report a reliable average.

One of the most useful ways to engage with the Benchmarks findings is to compare your own results to the numbers we report and the experiences of your peer organisations. We encourage that sort of thing. What you should not do is compare Benchmarks to Benchmarks.

Because the pool of participants changes year to year, comparing one Benchmarks Study’s data to another’s will be unreliable and misleading. Wherever we make year on year comparisons, it is using long-term data from this year’s participants. Similarly, comparing the numbers in the UK edition to those in the US version of Benchmarks may lead you astray (though we very much encourage you to read the full study for additional context and also a really good joke about the definition of “lede.”). Reliable comparisons between US and UK data are included here, where we have been careful to account for confounding variables.


It is hard to remember an experience shared more universally around the planet than the COVID pandemic. While individuals and nations each responded in their own way to the rapidly shifting news, the pandemic affected us all. And so it should be no surprise that our biggest headline held true for nonprofits of all types in the US and the UK: online revenue was up in 2020. Way up.

On average, nonprofits in the UK reported a 35% increase in online revenue from the prior year. This is truly extraordinary growth, which reflects the generosity and compassion of millions of individual supporters. People saw their communities, their neighbours, the whole wide world suffering under unbearable conditions — and they found ways to help.

That surge in generosity is apparent in the overall revenue increase, but the detailed data tells us quite a bit more.

First, the growth in online revenue was primarily driven by more people giving rather than people giving more.

The average cash gift declined from £55 to £49, while the average regular gift grew slightly from £9 to £10. The larger difference, and the key factor behind the growth in revenue, is that UK nonprofits received 27% more gifts in 2020 than they did in 2019.

The story seems fairly straightforward: an unprecedented crisis consumed our attention, compassionate individuals responded by donating to the causes they care about, and online revenue surged as nonprofits received more donations. There’s just one missing piece here, one that could have major implications for nonprofits’ ability to create long-term growth.

Nonprofits in the UK reported disproportionate growth in cash giving, compared to both regular giving and their US counterparts.

The US comparison points to an underlying difference that has built up over years and years. Regular, monthly donations tend to be a much larger share of overall revenue for UK organisations than they are for nonprofits in the US. The reasons for this are varied and complex, having to do with both nonprofit strategy and donor preferences.

To be sure, regular giving increased significantly in 2020 — UK nonprofits reported 22% growth. At the same time, revenue from cash giving increased by 65% over the previous year.

The pandemic forced organisations to shift strategies and resources, and some of those shifts may be reflected in the dramatic increase in cash giving. As lockdowns and quarantines put severe limits on in-person events and face-to-face fundraising, organisations amplified digital efforts. That change may have helped boost the growth in cash giving through digital efforts.

As is often the case, fundraising strategy and tactics were only part of the story — supporters themselves make choices, and in 2020 they increasingly chose to make an impact through immediate cash giving. It’s possible that this growth also reflects a shift in donor preferences, and that we will continue to see increases in cash giving outstrip gains in regular giving. But given the context of 2020, a year of unceasing catastrophe, it’s worth considering what happens next.

There’s a pattern that may sound familiar to nonprofits with experience in disaster response — earthquakes, tsunamis, and similar sudden spikes in need. The urgent desire to help during an emergency can drive a surge in impulsive, one-time giving. And then, once the moment of crisis fades, those new supporters fade away at rates that we would not see for repeat donors.

Converting the attention and generosity of cash donors into long-term growth requires a commitment to retention. That should be a priority for fundraising programmes of any type at any time — but will be especially important for those nonprofits that welcome an unusually large number of new cash donors over the past year.

Digital Ads


  • UK nonprofit spending on digital ads increased by 62% in 2020, with nonprofits spending an average of £0.12 for every pound raised in online revenue. (This is a measure of the level of spending relative to total budget, not a direct measure of return on investment. More on return on ad spend below.)

  • Direct fundraising ads accounted for 54% of all ad spending. Lead generation ads accounted for 19%, and branding, awareness, or education for 12%.

  • Return on ad spend was highest for search ads (£3.91 for every pound spent), followed by social media (£0.96), display (£0.16), and video (£0.13).

In 2020, UK nonprofits vastly expanded their investment in digital ads. The big question as we look ahead is whether that increased scale will be matched by a wider scope of the types of ads they produce.

Let’s start from the top: in 2020, nonprofits in our study spent an average of £0.12 on digital ads for every pound raised in online revenue. To put it another way, a nonprofit that raised £1 million online in 2020 spent an average of £120,000 on digital advertising.

This is not nonprofits’ return on investment — rather, it’s a measure of how much of their total budget nonprofits are investing in digital ads.

The increase from the previous year is striking: UK nonprofits’ digital advertising spending grew 62% year on year. Significant growth in digital ad spending was reported by nonprofits of all sizes and all sorts of issue areas.

The bulk of ad spending was dedicated to fundraising: 54% of budgets went to direct fundraising ads, and 19% was spent on lead generation. Branding, awareness, or education ads made up just 12% of digital ads budgets overall.

However, there was significant variation beneath those topline numbers. Looking at the participants by size, we found that Large organisations (those with annual online revenue above £3,000,000) reported budget breakdowns that roughly matched the overall averages, while smaller organisations behaved quite differently.

Large organisations spent 59% of their digital advertising budgets on fundraising, with only 13% of budgets allocated to lead generation. Medium organisations reported a fairly even split: 38% of budgets were devoted to direct fundraising, while 39% were reserved for lead generation. Small organisations spent 29% of budgets on fundraising, and 22% on lead generation.

This may reflect differences in challenges and opportunities. Large nonprofits may feel that they have sufficient brand recognition and a large enough supporter base to be able to move users directly to a fundraising page. Medium and Small groups may have chosen to build an audience through lead generation, trusting ongoing email and other communication to deepen those relationships and convert that growing audience to donors.

The majority of fundraising ad spending was devoted to social media advertising: 59% overall, rising to 81% of spending for small organisations. Search was also an important channel, with 29% of overall spending. Especially among large nonprofits, the relative lack of direct fundraising spending on display advertising is one of the most notable differences in strategic approaches between UK- and US-based nonprofits. In the UK, large organisations spent 10% of budgets on display; in the US, large nonprofits spent 26%. The story is much the same for medium organisations; UK: 6%, US: 12%.

Because display advertising can be scaled up more or less indefinitely — the internet is quite large, after all — we may see the balance of spending begin to look more like it does in the US as UK digital ad budgets continue to grow.

We have covered the decisions being made by organisations, but what are nonprofits getting back? The cost to generate a single donation with social media advertising was £30. For social media advertising, the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS, a measure of revenue that can be directly sourced to an ad) was £0.96.

That suggests that this ad spending just about broke even: organisations received about as much as they spent. But this simple view misses two important points. First, the lifetime value of a donor is likely to be quite a bit higher than what is captured by ROAS thanks to subsequent giving, or the establishment of a regular gift.

Second, return on ad spend is just one way to evaluate the effectiveness of an advertising effort — and influencing supporter behaviour is a complex art. A supporter might see an Instagram Stories ad, then see a display ad while browsing a news site. They may not click on either of those, but those ads prompt them to search for your organisation, click on a search ad, and give.

Donations like these, from supporters who were served ads but landed on a donation page through some other means, are attributed as view-through revenue. This kind of giving accounted for 24% of all digital ads giving in 2020 (including both US and UK nonprofits). Yet if your attribution model only accounts for the “last touch,” your search ad gets all the credit for that gift, even if your social media and display ads played a role in prompting that gift.

That sounds complicated and messy, but let’s face it: much of nonprofit direct response is complicated and messy. There are no clear lines, no easy choices. What works for one organisation may completely fail for another. And what’s standard in the US may seem an unusual approach in the UK.

There is tremendous opportunity in engaging with these complicated questions. Digital advertising channels allow organisations to conduct tests with limited budgets, and scale up rapidly when they find a winning approach. The beauty of digital advertising is that it allows nonprofits to better understand who they are talking to, reach those audiences wherever they are, and respond to what their actions tell us they care about.

That flexibility is unique in the direct response space. But if you’re not tracking the journey — however circuitous it may be — to becoming a supporter or making a gift, you’re not only missing an opportunity to show the full impact of your programme. You may also be missing out on finding more donors and supporters eager to support your cause.



  • Most email metrics — including open rates, click-through rates, response rates, and page completion rates — improved in 2020.

  • Email volume for UK organisations increased by 45% in 2020, but was still far lower than email volume for US nonprofits.

  • Email list sizes increased by 38% in 2020, building on 11% growth in the prior year.

  • The average response rate for advocacy email was 5.9%. The average response rate for fundraising email was 0.63%.

  • Email revenue accounted for 5% of all online revenue for UK organisations in 2020, the same proportion as in 2019.

We don’t, as a rule, like to give advice in Benchmarks. We try to limit ourselves to what has happened, rather than what should happen. And we are a bit self-conscious about our largely American perspective, and about the long American history of trying to make everyone else do things the way that we like to do them.

But listen: you gotta start sending more email. That’s not just brash American M+R talking. It’s the numbers speaking, and doing so quite clearly. (It’s also our friends at Rally, who have been banging this particular drum for quite some time. There is massive untapped potential in email.)

Let’s begin by assessing the general health of UK email lists. Last year, email list sizes grew by an average of 38%, building on 11% growth in the previous year and fueled in part by investments in digital advertising for lead generation. That is robust growth, to put it mildly, and an order of magnitude higher than what was reported by US nonprofits.

List churn — a measure of how many subscribers we removed from email lists, was quite low. The annualised unsubscribe rate for UK organisations was 5.6%, compared to 9.3% in the US. Open rates for UK organisations averaged 29%, again far outpacing the 19% average US open rates.

So: many more people joined email lists, relatively few of them left, and those subscribers were quite receptive to the email content that organisations sent. Thanks to the extraordinary effort of nonprofit staff, the commitment of supporters, and the restrictions of GDPR that have forced organisations to build healthy, engaged email audiences.

And yet. Just 5% of online revenue for UK organisations was sourced to email in 2020, compared to 20% for US nonprofits.

There are many factors contributing to this difference. Email programmes are run differently. Supporter audiences may have different expectations. Other efforts, including digital advertising, mobile messaging, and regular giving, are prioritised in different ways. But perhaps the single most important factor, and the one which individual organisations can most easily control, is volume.

On average, a person who was signed up to a UK organisation’s email list for all of 2020 could expect to receive 9 fundraising messages, 3 advocacy alerts, 5 newsletters, and 11 miscellaneous email messages. All told, 28 emails over the course of the full year. Sign up for an email list in the US, and you’d get 29 fundraising messages alone.

Every one of those is another opportunity to present a compelling case for giving. Another moment when the connection between a cause and a supporter can be strengthened. One more bump to an organisation’s budget. The simplest way to get more out of an email programmes is to ask more frequently.

We did see movement in that direction in 2020. Overall email volume was up by 45% for UK organisations, and fundraising message volume in particular increased by 72%.

That increase in volume was a major contributor to growth in email revenue — a 111% increase for UK nonprofits in 2020. Of course, we can’t discount the larger context. Heightened awareness and generosity in the era of COVID had an impact as well, but that may have been a less important factor.

Consider this: for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent, UK nonprofits raised £211. That’s a substantial return (in the US, the comparable figure is £51 per 1,000 emails), reflecting quality messaging and a receptive audience. That £211 per 1,000 messages delivered marks just a 16% increase over the 2019 average. Which is to say, holding everything else equal, sending one fundraising appeal to a static audience resulted in 16% more revenue.

In order to produce dramatic growth in revenue, you need a bigger audience, and you need to send more email. From the 2020 data, it looks like that’s where things are headed.

Social Media


  • For every 1,000 email addresses, UK nonprofits had an average of 1,450 Facebook fans, 864 Twitter followers, and 346 Instagram followers.
  • Twitter posts had an average engagement rate of 2.2%.
  • Facebook posts had an average engagement score of 0.35%.
  • Each organic Facebook post only reached 7% of a UK nonprofit page’s fans. Meanwhile, 30% of the audience reached by a given post was not already following the nonprofit.
  • Revenue from Facebook Fundraisers was flat from 2019 levels, and accounted for 0.54% of online revenue for UK organisations.

Before a website gets updated, before an email is launched, before hitting send on a mass SMS, most nonprofits respond to breaking news by turning to social media.

The potential reach of this channel is enormous, but it begins with those audiences that directly follow a nonprofit on each platform. For most nonprofits, Facebook continues to be the social media platform with the largest follower base. In 2020, UK nonprofits had 1,450 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers, 864 Twitter followers, and 346 Instagram followers.

Now, simply having a large potential audience is not the same thing as actually reaching those supporters with content. Unlike channels like email, SMS, and direct mail, social media platforms directly control the reach of each piece of content through their proprietary algorithms.

On Facebook, an organic post by a nonprofit reached just 7% of fans in 2020. The vast majority of a nonprofit’s Facebook fans simply didn’t get served any individual post. On the flipside, 30% of the audience that did see a post were not already fans. We aren’t just reaching the audiences we already know when we post to social media.

In order to expand that reach, many nonprofits rely on paid post promotion. In 2020, 2.8% of nonprofit Facebook posts had paid reach.

Of course, social media isn’t simply a way for nonprofits to share information. It’s also a direct response channel — we want the audience to do something with our content.

Twitter provides a direct report of engagement, which the platform defines as total engagements per post divided by post reach. In 2020, the average Twitter engagement rate was 2.2%, with Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits a high-side outlier at 3.2%.

We benchmark engagement a little differently on Facebook than on Twitter. Because of Facebook’s tendency to throttle post reach dramatically depending on their algorithms, Facebook engagement rates can be wildly inconsistent, and are less useful to benchmark.

In order to produce a more stable figure, we looked at the number of users who interacted with a post as a percentage of page fans when the content was posted. By this measure, the average Facebook engagement score for UK organisations was 0.35%. Which is to say: if a nonprofit had 100,000 fans and posted a piece of content, that post would receive 350 likes, clicks, and shares on average.

In order to try to assess the kinds of content that were most likely to drive Facebook engagement, we sorted all posts by day of week and by content type. There were some differences (weekend posts received a bit less engagement, photo and video content performed a bit better than link content), but nothing major.

Overall, revenue from Facebook Fundraisers — the platform’s built-in peer-to-peer fundraising tool — remained flat for UK organisations from 2019. That revenue accounted for 0.54% of all online revenue, though things looked quite different for organisations in the Health (5.3% of online revenue) and Hunger/Poverty (4.8% of online revenue) sectors.

As with the rapid growth in cash giving, this extraordinary performance was likely a confluence of strategic choices by organisations and individual choices by supporters. Many organisations turned to virtual challenges during the pandemic, supplementing or replacing traditional tactics like in-person events and races. This heightened visibility encouraged more people to consider getting involved and setting up Facebook Fundraisers.

These standout sectors likely reflect COVID response and personal supporter connections to individual causes. For Facebook users with a personal experience with a particular disease or support network — survivors, or those who have lost loved ones, for example — dedicating a birthday Fundraiser to that cause may be a natural fit. Participation in virtual challenges also provides a sense of community and connection, which has rarely been needed more than in the past year. As the pandemic took a terrible economic toll, many people chose to embrace those virtual connections, and to give additional support to organisations providing direct relief.

It’s worth noting not only which causes earned support, but when. Some sectors saw spikes in Facebook Fundraisers support at various times throughout the year. For example, Hunger/Poverty Fundraisers spiked in April, just as the seriousness of the pandemic was becoming clear to many people.

Overall, and for most sectors, December was a particularly busy time for Facebook Fundraisers. This giving reflects the effort and impact of thousands of individual supporters asking friends to join them in giving to a cause they care about. The average Facebook Fundraiser generated four gifts, with an average gift size of £15. It is in the aggregate that these donations have an impact.

For US-based nonprofits, December is a time of extraordinarily high messaging volume across digital channels. It’s not unusual for a nonprofit to send a dozen or more fundraising emails over the course of the month, including three on 31 December alone. This approach is tied to the Thanksgiving holiday, US tax policy, and other factors that aren’t relevant in the UK. As we’ve seen, email volume in the UK didn’t look much different in December than in any other month.

Which is all to say, US supporters are inundated with fundraising messages in December, and respond with higher levels of giving. The UK spike in December Facebook revenue may have similar origins, at least in part: virtual challenges begun in November leading to more giving in December.

It’s also quite possible that supporters are simply more responsive at this time of year. The outpouring of generosity may exist independently from the news cycle, from the rise and fall of the economy, even from the pandemic. It may just be that supporters feel December to be the season of giving.

And if that’s the case, if a spirit of generosity is filling the air as the year comes to a close, the question becomes how organisations can speak to that spirit and move people to give across other channels as well.

Website Engagement



Disaster/International Aid

  • Amref Health Africa UK
  • British Red Cross
  • Christian Aid
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Islamic Relief UK
  • MAG
  • Oxfam GB
  • Plan International UK
  • Practical Action
  • ShelterBox
  • Sightsavers
  • The ONE Campaign
  • Unicef UK
  • WaterAid
  • Women for Women International UK
  • World Jewish Relief
  • World Vision UK


  • Anthony Nolan
  • Ben - Motor & Allied Trades Benevolent Fund
  • Breast Cancer Now
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Dementia UK
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity
  • Leukaemia UK
  • Maggie's
  • MND Association
  • Pharmacist Support
  • Prostate Cancer UK
  • RNID
  • Samaritans
  • Teesside Hospice
  • The Leprosy Mission England and Wales
  • Tommy's
  • Versus Arthritis


  • Caring in Bristol
  • Child Poverty Action Group
  • Crisis UK
  • Shelter
  • Tearfund


  • Amnesty International UK
  • Anti-Slavery International
  • Dignity In Dying
  • Refuge
  • Reprieve
  • Scope

Wildlife/Animal Welfare

  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
  • Brooke
  • Cats Protection
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Dogs Trust


  • Age UK
  • Art Fund
  • Friends of the Earth UK
  • Greenpeace UK
  • RNLI


An email or SMS message that asks recipients to sign an online petition, send an email to a decision-maker, or take a similar online action. For the purposes of this Study, advocacy email does not include higher-bar actions like making a phone call or attending an event, largely because tracking offline response is inconsistent across organisations. Advocacy email rates were calculated from advocacy emails with a simple action sent to either the full file or a random sample of the full file.

Calculated as the number of people who clicked on any trackable link in an email or text message divided by the number of delivered emails or text messages. People who clicked multiple times in one email were only counted once. In other words, if a subscriber clicked on every link in a message 10 times, this was counted the same as if the subscriber had clicked once on a single link.

Only the emails that were delivered, not including the emails that are considered inactive or emails that were sent and bounced. “Delivered” email messages may land in a user’s inbox, spam folder, promotions tab, or custom folder.

The total number of users who engage with a social media post (by liking, clicking, sharing, etc.), divided by the total number of page fans on the day the content was posted.

People who “like” a nonprofit’s Facebook Fan page.

People who subscribe to receive the tweets from a nonprofit’s Twitter account.

People who subscribe to see posts from a nonprofit’s Instagram account.

All of an organisation’s deliverable email addresses, not including unsubscribed email addresses or email addresses to which an organisation no longer sends email messages.

An email or SMS message that only asks for a donation, as opposed to an email newsletter, which might ask for a donation and include other links. For the purposes of this Study, fundraising email only includes cash (one-time) donation asks; it does not include regular (monthly) gift asks. Fundraising email rates were calculated from all fundraising emails, regardless of whether the email went to the full file, a random sample of the file, or a targeted portion of the file.


An alphabetical list of terms related to a specific subject, with explanations. Example: “This Glossary includes a definition of the word ‘Glossary,’ which honestly doesn’t seem necessary.” See also: Metatextuality.


A new subscriber or potential source of activism, donations, or other support. See the Digital Ads discussion for more details on lead generation. Do not see the definition for LEDE, which is a whole different thing.


If you are pronouncing it like it rhymes with “red,” then it’s a soft, dense metal with atomic number 82. This is what was used to make the strips separating lines of type in old-timey printing presses. That common typesetting use for lead led to the lead part of an article being called a “lede.” It was an attempt to avoid confusion between “lead” and “lead,” but how successful at reducing confusion was it really given we are spending so much time in this glossary talking about it? See also: LEDE.


The opening sentence or paragraph of a news article, fundraising email, Benchmarks Study, or other important piece of writing. See also: LEAD (but not LEAD, which is a whole different thing).


Calculated as the number of subscribers who became unreachable in a 12-month period divided by the sum of the number of deliverable email addresses at the end of that period plus the number of subscribers who became unreachable during that period. Study participants were required to track the number of subscribers who became unreachable each month to account for subscribers both joining and leaving an email list during the 12-month period who would otherwise go uncounted.


Did you arrive here from the definition for “Glossary”? That’ll probably explain it better. Maybe go look there and then come back? See also: Glossary.

An email with multiple links or asks, which can include fundraising or advocacy asks. Email newsletter rates were calculated from all email newsletters, regardless of whether the newsletter went to the full file, a random sample of the file, or a targeted portion of the file.


Calculated as the number of HTML email messages opened divided by the number of delivered emails. Email messages that bounce are not included.


Website visits generated by unpaid search results.


Calculated as the number of people who completed a form divided by the number of people who clicked on the link to get to that form. For the purposes of this Study, it was not always possible to use the number of people who clicked on a link to a specific form, so we used the number of unique clicks in the message.


The percentage of observed values below the named data point. 25% of the observations are below the 25th percentile; 75% of the observations are below the 75th percentile. The values between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile are the middle 50% of the observed values and represent the normal range of values.


Calculated as the number of people who took the main action requested by an email or text message divided by the number of delivered messages.

A donation where the donor signs up once to donate on a regular schedule, typically by pledging a regular gift amount on a credit card each month.

The total number of users who engage with a post (by liking, clicking, sharing, etc.), divided by post reach.


The number of people who clicked on any trackable link in an email message, as opposed to the number of times the links in an email were clicked. If a subscriber clicked on every link in a message 10 times, this is counted as 1 unique click. It is also counted as 1 strange person.

Calculated as the number of individuals who unsubscribed in response to an email message divided by the number of delivered emails.


Revenue from donors who made a donation (typically within 30 days) of seeing, but not clicking on, an ad. For example, a supporter who sees a banner ad and later goes directly to the nonprofit’s website to make a gift.


Calculated from the number of donations to a participant’s main donation page, divided by the number of unique pageviews of that page. We included only unique pageviews for the cash donation page, if a separate donation page existed for regular gifts.


The number of seconds before a page appears to be visually complete, as measured by the WebPageTest tool at http://webpagetest.org.