Expand Your Nonprofit’s Universe: 2018 Digital Outlook Report

May 8, 2018

For those of you who have downloaded and read the Digital Outlook Report – and for those of you who haven’t – we want to provide you with a summary of both your learnings and ours from this year’s report. After all, working on a large report requires the contributors to be ‘neck deep’ in the data, and like any submission of work, it’s only after it’s sent to the publisher that we realize what else we could have shared.  

Similarly to previous years, the findings of this half white-paper and half report are the result of a survey sent out on behalf of all participating organizations – hjc, Care2, NTEN, and Resource Alliance. Every year, the findings are compiled into the incredible Digital Outlook Report, and is typically broken into sub-segments that target organizations who are new to digital, have dipped their toes in, and those that blow digital out of the water! We are always pleased to see a diverse audience of respondents in terms of both geographic location, and role within each organization. It allows for an unbiased, fulsome depiction of where the world of digital stands within the nonprofit sector, and even better, where it’s headed! This year focused on three topics – email deliverability, mobile optimization, and website conversion – so let’s look at the key takeaways from both sides of the pond! 

Your Key Takeaways

Email Deliverability: If we put our three areas of focus on a road trip, email is sure to be the driver. Our findings told us that most organizations have a strong grasp on what it takes to run a successful email program, however as we mentioned, the best can always get better. We broke this section, and all sections to follow, into three categories that targeted all levels of understanding. Each section contained three easy-to-action tips for organizations to implement in order to leverage their email programs. As mentioned in the webinar we hosted as a run-through of the report on March 29th (you can listen here if you didn’t attend), we truly believe that email is the crucial stepping stone for any digital program.  

Mobile Optimization: Mobile optimization takes the passenger seat on this car ride, however it’s still imperative to ‘keeping the driver awake’. As we all know, society is overwhelmed by technology and the ease of access to everything from social channels to our favourite movies. When it comes to digital in the nonprofit world, it’s no different. We learned that it was basically a 50/50 split between those of you with a mobile program and those of you without one. However, we want to make sure that as mobile devices get smarter, so do you. The section was broken out into the same structure as email deliverability and provided tips for all levels of the mobile game. Have a read through to advance your mobile program and help us decrease the 50% who don’t yet have a strategy in place. 

Website Conversion: The concept of website conversion is one that currently sits in the backseat – but like any backseat driver, is slowly but surely working its way to the front. We were surprised to find that only 37% of respondents keep track of their website conversion but chose to optimize this opportunity to provide tips that will help those without the numbers, and give advice to those who have them. If you’re one of the few who has the data in mind, or one that has no idea where to start, we advise you to look at the tips that we provided to help you jumpstart your knowledge and start keeping track.  

Our Key Takeaways

Provide a Mobile Optimized Version of the Report: We know – it’s almost laughable. We received very important feedback from a reader noting that we did not provide a mobile optimized version of the report. We would like to claim that we were just testing you, but we hold ourselves completely accountable for this oversight. Talk about taking your own advice! 

Identify our Year-over-Year Readers: Given that the Digital Outlook Report references data and information from previous years, we’d like to think that we have (at least) a few return readers. With that being said, we would like to get to know you! Keep an eye out next year for questions in the survey that will give us an idea of who’s a loyal DOR reader, and the difference that this report has made – and continues to make – for them. 

Compare Year-over-Year Statistics: Similarly to year-over-year readers, we would like to dedicate a ‘short and sweet’ section to statistics from the previous year and see how everyone is doing within the 12-month window following the report. This will be framed using a few questions in the survey that would ask repeat questions from the following year, targeting primary statistics from each section. This will provide a ‘real-life’ section on how our tips and advice really impact our readers and their organizations. 

Overall, we love writing this report – and we hope that you love reading it! Next year marks the 5th anniversary of the Digital Outlook Report, which means that we want to make sure that the content reflects this milestone. We’ll be actioning our takeaways from this year and keeping a close eye on digital trends in the nonprofit world. In the meantime, we’re asking you to do the same. Read through the report, make notes, and begin to action the tips that we provide. Until next year! 

About the Author

Hailey joined the hjc team last April following a three year Business Administration program at George Brown College. Her passion for fundraising continues to grow with her role on the digital marketing team, where she interacts with clients on marketing and strategy related projects.

On behalf of hjc, Hailey was the author of this year’s Digital Outlook Report. She worked closely with CARE2 and NTEN to facilitate the initial survey and analyze the data that makes up the report each year.