Tag: NTEN research

How many emails is the right number to send to your constituents? What kind of fundraising appeals are most effective? These are the questions that keep nonprofit marketing and development staff awake at night.

This year, NTEN is again teaming up with M+R on its Benchmarks Study: an in-depth look at nonprofit data, strategy, and trends. The study helps nonprofit fundraisers, organizers, and marketers make smart decisions based on the experiences of their peers. But we need your help.

Will you take part in the 11th Benchmarks Study in 2017? By adding your data, you’ll help make Benchmarks more useful. Your investment will be just a few hours of effort to collect and report your data to M+R, which will confidentially roll it up into the final study.

Complete the expression of interest form to take part.

State of Nonprofit CloudWhen we previously conducted research about the use of cloud services in the nonprofit sector, it was 2011. In that original report, we noted that many nonprofit staff were using hosted services, such as email, without realizing that they were accessing the cloud. We also found that there was strong concern for security of cloud systems, such as databases, though those same organizations were using hosted services for accessing and sharing sensitive data.

At the end of 2015, we partnered with Microsoft Philanthropies to conduct another round of research to get a better sense of the cloud services being used by nonprofits; fears or struggles around using the cloud; and plans for potential expansion.

>> Download the report

We anticipated that some notable changes might have occurred in the years since the last report and certainly have proof of those changes in this new report. Some key findings include:

  • Cloud services are a core part of nonprofit operations, with 100% of survey respondents indicating they use at least two cloud services, up from 80% of survey participants in our last survey.
  • The newest addition to organizations’ cloud services ecosystems is document storage.
  • In comparing installed versus hosted services, respondents noted staff training as important but not likely to have a difference in their selection (contrast this to the results in NTEN’s annual Tech Staffing & Investment research, where respondents indicate that they have the tools they need but not the training to use those tools well).

>> Download the report

We hope you find this report valuable. If you have observations, feedback, ideas, or requests as far as how we can help you and your organization use technology, please let us know.

Let me paint a picture: You’re ready to boost your online fundraising efforts or plan a strategy for online advocacy. You’ve got some experience but would love data on how your peers are doing on these fronts. You even have some numbers of your own to share to help them as well. Gosh…if only there was an opportunity to crunch some data!

Well, your opportunity is here in the form of the M+R and NTEN 2016 Benchmarks Survey.

Now in it’s tenth year, the report collects and analyzes data from nonprofits (last year 84 organizations participated!) to establish benchmarks and trends that nonprofits can use when crafting their digital strategies.

Curious about how the data is used and presented? Take a look at the 2015 survey. Still not convinced you should participate? Peep the 2014 trailer video for additional insights and an afternoon chuckle.

By adding your data (which is kept completely confidential), you’ll help make Benchmarks the most complete and comprehensive compendium of online nonprofit metrics possible—and you’ll find out everything you need to know about the numbers that matter most.

Help determine the industry standard for online fundraising and advocacy. Sign up to participate here: http://mrbenchmarks.com/2016/participate.html by January 29. 

Questions? Concerns? Data jokes? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friends at M+R. (Actually—just send us the data jokes.)

Your Voices: 2015 NTEN Community Survey ReportEvery year, NTEN conducts an annual Community Survey to find out more about the individuals and organizations in the NTEN Community. We strive to be a community-driven organization, in all aspects of our work, to offer the kinds of programs and services that will benefit our constituents. Our annual Community Survey is one way we listen to your needs and experiences to inform our work.

The annual Community Survey serves us in two critical ways. First, as a key mechanism for collecting and distilling feedback, both qualitative and quantitative, about what’s working, which programs are most valued, and where we have opportunities to make changes or additions. Second, components of this annual research are put directly into our public evaluation data—indicators of where we may be making impact towards the outcomes we are striving for in this Community and with the nonprofit sector. The report also gives us a chance to share how we are integrating your feedback into new improvements, initiatives, and resources based on your needs.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

  • We continue to see Executive Directors/CEOs as a growing constituency among the Community, especially among Non-members, and see more Fundraising/Development professionals participating in the Community as Members this year.
  • We see a significant increase in the percentage of respondents whose organizations have technology-related training and professional development allocations in their budgets: 71% this year, compared to 49% previously.
  • As might be expected, “funding” and “budget”—in other words, money—is a key issue for respondents. Like last year, we see that the word “integration” appears frequently, especially among responses by current NTEN Members. For Non-members, the word “management” showed up often.
  • A new question on this year’s survey asks respondents about their key projects and priorities over the coming twelve months. Respondents indicated they were most likely to be “Expanding existing program or services” in the coming year.

Learn more about what we found this year by downloading the full survey report.

What do you think about the survey findings? Let us know in the comments.

Earlier this summer, we released the 2015 Digital Adoption Report. Today, we wanted to share some further recommendations and resources that complement the report’s findings.

This addendum includes takeaways on the following topics:

  • Nonprofit adoption
  • The cost of doing business
  • The whole is greater than the parts
  • Adoption rates, and assumptions v. reality
  • Thought leaders, best practices

> Download the Recommendations & Resources of the 2015 Digital Adoption Report!

Why this report: Sixty million Americans do not have Internet access in their homes. That statistic is alarming, and is precisely what drove NTEN and Mobile Citizen to launch this report, which provides benchmarks and qualitative data about online technology and digital inclusion efforts among nonprofits and the communities that they serve.

Read the report and recommendations and want to learn more? Join a webinar on December 10 with Mobile Citizen and NTEN to review the Digital Adoption Report findings, discuss case studies from organizations at varying levels of adoption and digital inclusion efforts, and learn what steps you can take to better connect your constituents with your services.

Mobile Citizen

How is the Internet making it possible for your organization to meet its mission?

NTEN is excited to partner with Mobile Citizen on a new research project to explore how online services and Internet access help you and your colleagues deliver services and programs, and connect you with your constituents. This survey explores how organizations keep staff connected, from offices to virtual teams, as well as how the Internet factors into program or service delivery. Beyond the organization’s staff, this survey also looks to better understand how the community that is served influences digital decisions by staff and board. We hope this research provides an initial benchmark that we can all learn from and build on together.

Data from the survey will be shared in multiple formats this Spring, including a full report, webinars, and case studies. Better understanding the tools and needs of nonprofit staff and the community will also help us create new and valuable resources, educational programs, and other content in 2015 and beyond. But to get this information, we need your help:

>> Share your experience: Take the Digital Adoption Survey today!

All survey participants can enter a drawing for a $500 Amazon Gift Card! The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. Your answers will remain anonymous and will be reported in aggregate only.

Cover of the 2014 NTEN Community Survey ReportEvery year, NTEN conducts an annual Community Survey to find out more about the individuals and organizations in the NTEN Community. We strive to be a community-driven organization, in all aspects of our work, to offer the kinds of programs and services that will benefit our constituents. Our annual Community Survey is one way we listen to your needs and experiences to inform our work.

The annual Community Survey serves us in two critical ways. First, as a key mechanism for collecting and distilling feedback, both qualitative and quantitative, about what’s working, which programs are most valued, and where we have opportunities to make changes or additions. Second, components of this annual research are put directly into our public evaluation data – indicators of where we may be making impact towards the outcomes we are striving for in this community and with the nonprofit sector. The report also gives us a chance to share how we are integrating your feedback into new improvements, initiatives, and resources based on your needs.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

• We continue to see Executive Directors/CEOs as a growing constituency among the community, especially among Non-members, and see more Fundraising/Development professionals participating in the community as Members this year.
• As we saw last year, when asked about key organizational challenges regarding technology, respondents make clear that as technology becomes more necessary across all job functions at an organization, the burden of training all staff to execute projects and strategies consistently has become greater: they feel challenged to find the time, funding, and the right resources to train their staff.
• Respondents this year also emphasize “integration” as a key challenge their organizations are currently facing: once organizations have tools, and the staff to use them, their big challenge becomes integrating their data, channels, systems, etc., across departments.

Learn more about what we found this year by downloading the full survey report.

What do you think about the survey findings? Let us know in the comments.

button_2014_collected_voices_data_reportWhat happens when nonprofits make a real commitment to collect healthy data about their programs and operations; manage it well; and make savvy, data-informed decisions? And what happens when you connect energized, smart, data-passionate nonprofit professionals for a year of learning and knowledge sharing?

In 2013, NTEN, Microsoft, and some of the brightest members of the nonprofit technology community set out to discover the answers. The 18 members of the Communities of Impact pilot program spent the year connecting through two in-person retreats, monthly calls with seasoned data practitioners from all sectors, and ongoing online discussions and resource sharing.

>> Download Collected Voices: Data-Informed Nonprofits!

The best way we could find to capture the lessons, insights, and discoveries from this year of work is by compiling case studies from participants with resources and conversations that emerged during their work together. This is not a report, per se; it isn’t a guide or a handbook. Just as these participants plan to continue working on the ways their organizations collect and use data, we hope that this collection can serve you and your team in learning about what others are doing and where you may go next.

Download the full Collect Voices collection today! And let us know what you’re working on by sharing on the NTEN Discuss list.

Earlier this year, we worked with Avectra to release The 2013 Nonprofit Engagement Data Study, which was based on a survey of nonprofit communications and fundraising professionals, as well as executive directors.  The findings showed that nonprofits are tracking various kinds of participation data about the ways their constituents and supporters engage with their work and resources, but very few organizations are doing so strategically, nor are they supporting this practice with adequate tools and staffing.

The findings also suggest, however, that of those who are tracking and looking at correlation between engagement and more “traditional” data like annual fundraising levels, constituent retention or growth, average gift size, etc. — at least some positive correlation is being found.

To get a closer look at practices and challenges at the organizational level, we sought input from 10 nonprofits and associations that vary in size and work across many programmatic areas.

We’ve compiled their responses around seven key questions and share their stories and examples of how they are collecting, managing, and sharing engagement data at their organizations — and how it impacts their work.

> Read the new report “Connecting the Dots of Nonprofit Engagement Data: A Closer Look at Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities”

Last month we released our seventh annual report on nonprofit investment and practices regarding technology.  You can download the complete report here, and don’t forget the companion online benchmarking tool, where you can compare some of your organization’s data against your peers in our research.

I’d like to take a closer look at one aspect of our research and organizational practice: technology staffing levels.

In our latest survey, we decided to ask about technology staffing levels differently.  Why? Because we know that the term “IT Staff” means something very specific to people, and the concept of who is “IT Staff” has not changed as rapidly over the last few years as the role of technology in an organization has.  In the NTEN community, the concept of “IT Staff” has been more fluid and inclusive, but we also know that many nonprofit professionals who have information technology responsibilities are either not given formal “information technology” titles, or don’t self-identify as “IT Staff” — and often both cases are true for an individual.

As the membership organization for nonprofit technology professionals, it’s an important, and often sticky, issue to understand, communicate, and especially measure.

In our previous survey, we moved from “information technology staff” to “Technology-responsible staff” in the question, hoping that this more-inclusive terminology would help us understand better the FTE staffing levles related to technology.  And in this last survey we took a step even futher and broke out our staffing question to ask respondents about different technology roles (we asked folks to tell us how many staff they had with “Data” in their title or formal job role, for example, and had separate questions for “Web,” “Online/Digital,” “IT,” and “Other Tech.”

So, how did these various question formats impact responses/results? Well, it’s hard to tell to what extent our question format impacted results, compared to variances in our survey audience from year to year, or compared to changes in organizational practices over the years.

Here is a Year-Over-Year comparison of our survey responses to technology staffing questions for the last three years:

The key things we notice here are:

  • The significant diffence between tech staffing levels reported in 2010 as compared to 2011 and 2012.  The 2011 and 2012 average staffing levels by organization size are very similar across all organization sizes, while the staffing levels in 2010 seem significantly lower.  Is the clear jump after 2010 due to the more inclusive language in the survey question, or to increased staffing levels at organizations?
  • Another way we measure technology staffing levels is determing the Tech Staff – to – Organizational Staff Ratio.  This gives us (and you) a more comparable metric.  If you have 12 total staff members, and you know that the average ratio of tech-to-org staff for your budget size is 1:24, then you know that having at least 0.5 FTE tech staff for your team is keeping up.  When we look at the YOY data above, we see quite a bit of variance in this ratio over the three years, and no distinguishible pattern (trend).  The ratio seemed to go up in general in the 2011 survey, meaning that respondents reported having fewer technology staff per their organizational staff.  These numbers went back down in our most recent survey, however.  We suspect that this may have to do more with staff size (that we had more organizations participating in the survey with smaller total staff sizes in 2010 and 2012), but because we kept the budget size comparison consistent each year, it’s hard to explain why the ratio would fluctuate so much.

One thing we gained from breaking out technology roles in our recent survey was the ability to see a more nuanced look at the staffing levels:

From this we see that:

  • Traditional “IT Staff” seems to be the most-staffed role among organizations
  • However, smaller organizations staff other roles — such as “Data” or “Web” staff — in a relatively higher percentage than larger organizations, considering their total staff sizes and in relation to their “IT Staff” levels.  For example, Very Large organizations seem to have twice as many traditional “IT Staff” positions Web or Online staff, while Small organizations seem to have about the same level of Data or Web staff as they do IT Staff.

So, based on this data, we see that the “traditional” IT staff role is still very well represented among nonprofit organizations, and in our attempts to be more inclusive — to expand the definition of technology staff, perhaps, in order to make sure all of the nptechies were counted — we’ve seen increases in reported technology staff, in general, but the reported ratio of tech staff to org staff is still in question:

Are organizations today made up of more technology-responsible staff, as a percentage of total staff, than in previous years?