Email is Still Queen of Fundraising.

Twitter. Facebook. Pintrest. Instagram. Tumblr. On and on and on. There are millions of social media platforms out there and NPO marketers feel pressure from their peers and Executive Directors to use them all (or not).

I recently spoke before a group of younger NPO volunteers who are tasked with managing social media for their organizations. They all wanted to know, “What is the best social media tool out there for fundraising?”

They all seemed to hold their breath, as they waited for the question of the year to be answered.

“Email,” I said.  And then I heard crickets

"Did you get my email?"

“Did you get my email?”

No matter. I now have the insights to back me up.

Research released last week by M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network showed that email list sizes were up by 15% compared with 2012 totals, and online revenue grew by 21%, with only the international sector showing a decrease. For every 1,000 email subscribers, groups in the study had 149 Facebook fans and 53 Twitter followers.

The report collected data about email messaging, email list size, fundraising, online advocacy, Facebook, Twitter and mobile programs from 55 U.S.-based national nonprofits.

The results were not all positive. Email response rates declined by 21% last year. Click-through rates fell by 27%, resulting in a 21% drop in fundraising response rates. Advocacy response rates fell by 8%, hitting rights and international groups hardest.

Social media fans, no need to worry. Th e number of Twitter followers grew by 264% over the past year, while the number of Facebook fans expanded by 46%.

So, how could a dinosaur like email, still reign in 2013? The answer isn’t concrete. However, I am willing to bet that for most NPOs, email is still the best way to share stories of programmatic success and updates to an audience that has already bought in to the mission. That element, my friends, needs to be woven into every platform that your organization adds to its marketing portfolio.

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