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Spam Filters Cost Nonprofits Nearly $30K

Spam filters could still be costing nonprofits an average of almost $30,000 because about one out of four email messages don’t make it to their intended inbox.

The 2018 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Study by EveryAction, a CRM firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Somerville, Mass., analyzed deliverability data for 55 national nonprofits against the latest industry benchmarks to determine the impact that spam and poor deliverability practices have on fundraising outcomes.

A nonprofit with a 100,000-person email list that sends two fundraising asks per month could be losing out on as much as $29,613.59 per year due to spam filters. A spam rate of just 1 percent equals $1,225.73 per year in lost revenue, according to EveryAction.

On average, 24.16 percent of email — that’s one out of four messages — was delivered to spam folders monthly in 2017. That’s almost 6 percent higher than 2016 and 17 percent higher than in 2015. The highest spam rate (32.64 percent) last year occurred in April while the lowest (16.35 percent) occurred in October.

Common causes of a high spam rate could include:

  • Making unsubscribing difficult;
  • Sending irrelevant email;
  • Using an out-of-date email list; and,
  • High complaints.

Nonprofits sent about 21 fundraising emails per month last year, one more per month than 2016 and about three fewer per month than in 2015. EveryAction employed the M+R 2017 Benchmarks Study metrics for average open rate (15 percent), click rate (0.42 percent) and page completion (16 percent).

Giving Tuesday and End Of Year (EOY) saw spam rates tumble slightly, to 20.34 percent and 21.36 percent, respectively. On Giving Tuesday, which raised more than $300 million online, charities sent an average of 3.29 emails, with a spam rate of about 20.34 percent, down from almost 37 percent in 2016.

Still, based on EveryAction’s research and benchmark figures, a nonprofit with a list of 100,000 sending an average 3.29 emails would potentially have lost $3,116.41 in fundraising on Giving Tuesday due to spam filters. A spam rate of 21.36 percent at EOY would cause the same nonprofit to lose $3,239.97 in unrealized fundraising potential.

“Despite expanding email programs and list sizes, diminished engagement and soaring spam rates are significantly weighing down nonprofit fundraising potential,” according to data in the 2018 report.

As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.