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How do I compare?

March 06, 2006

This is a question that many groups have asked, but have been unable to answer, when it comes to online advocacy. There are not any benchmarks which groups can use to evaluate success in online advocacy because this is still a relatively new arena.

Two weeks ago the Advocacy Institute and M&R Strategies released a report outlining some of those benchmarks. These benchmarks help confirm some best practices and challenge some other ones. Here are some of the basic benchmarks outlined in the report:

1. The more you invest, the higher the return
The study found that the more resources (staff and money) an organization invests in online advocacy, fundraising and communication the greater the return they received.

It is important not to read too much into this finding; this does not mean one can achieve success by just spending a lot of money. The study did not evaluate the actual impact of any of the online campaigns that it examined. It only evaluated the number of people that read e-mails, took action, or donated money.

Creating an effective strategy is still the most important step to achieving success.

2. E-mail messaging
The average open rate for e-mail is 30%
The average click-thru rate on advocacy is 10%
The average click-thru rate on fundraising is 0.3%

This information can provide a good benchmark to help identify the success of an e-mail message or online campaign.

3. Expect a high turnover in supporters
The study found that on average 28% of the subscribers will drop off the list over a 12 months period. In the online world it can be “easy come, easy go.” The turnover rate is caused by people unsubscribing (it is much easier to unsubscribe online than offline) and because of the high number of e-mail addresses that go bad.

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