Note: This is an archived publication! Visit for the most recent versions of all our Benchmarks studies and Benchmarks Extras.

If you judge a presentation by the questions that get asked then our 2011 Benchmarks webinar was a resounding success! In fact, we got so many great questions that we couldn’t answer them all on the call. Was your question one that didn’t get answered? I’ll answer more questions now, and you can email me with your unanswered questions.

Let’s jump in!

Q: I missed the webinar. Are the slides available?
Yes! You can download the webinar slides and listen to the webinar here. The Benchmarks study is a free download as well.

Q: Why does the Health sector behave differently from other sectors?
A: Health groups do a lot of peer-to-peer fundraising – walkathons, for example. As a result, they see a smaller portion of their fundraising come in over email. They may see lower email rates because people who join their email list from the walkathon are used to getting email from their friends and peers as opposed to the organization.

Q: Why does the International sector behave differently from other sectors?
A: International groups saw different rates because the number and scope of emergencies in 2010 – the earthquake in Haiti being the prime example – made their fundraising email more urgent and their work more compelling.

Q: Why do the Environmental sector and Wildlife / Animal Welfare sector behave differently from other sectors?
A: One possibility is that advocacy-focused groups like those in the Environmental and Wildlife / Animal Welfare sectors tend to see higher email rates because they have experience asking people to take action and they recruit a somewhat self-selecting group of action takers.

Q: What’s the difference between the “Environmental” sector and the “Wildlife / Animal Rights” sector?
A: Groups that focus on animals were included in the “Wildlife / Animal Rights” sector while groups that focus more broadly on protecting the environment were included in the “Environmental” sector, even if some of their work aims to protect wildlife. For example, groups like Defenders of Wildlife and PETA that focus on protecting animals were classified as “Wildlife / Animal Rights” while Greenpeace was classified as “Environmental” because they work to increase clean energy in addition to their work to protect whales.

Q: Are the organizations in the International sector nonprofits based overseas or nonprofits who do international work?
A: The International sector is made up of organizations that do international relief work (like the International Rescue Committee or Oxfam) as opposed to organizations with an international presence (like Greenpeace, which has an international presence but is in the Environmental sector).

Q: My sector isn’t in the study. What should I do?
A: Look at the “All Sectors” numbers, and don’t forget to also look at the numbers by list size.

Q: How does a new sector get added to the Benchmarks study?
A: We love to include as many sectors as we can, but we need a critical mass of groups to make it work. If you want a new sector in next year’s Benchmarks study, please email me to volunteer to be in the study! Even better is if you can also help recruit other organizations from the sector to be in the study.

Q: Do gains in advocacy activity support online giving or is it an end in itself?
A: Both! In addition to supporting advocacy goals, other research has shown that action takers are more likely to donate.

Q: Are the average monthly gifts the average of each individual gift or the total amount donated for the year?
A: The average of each individual gift; if one person makes two $100 donations that would be a $100 average.

Q: Do email fundraising response rates include offline gifts?
A: Email fundraising response rates only include gifts made online.

Q: Why are some metrics missing, like advocacy response rate and page completion rate for the International sector (pg. 21 and 22) and average sustainer gift for the Health sector (pg. 16)?
A: If at least three organizations didn’t contribute to a metric then we didn’t report on it; not enough International groups sent advocacy email and not enough Health groups reported their average sustainer gift numbers for us to feel comfortable reporting the metric.

That’s it for now, but check back for more Benchmarks analysis and answers.