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Return Path Offers Email Benchmarks and Strategic Guidance for Nonprofit Marketers

New report shares high level advice and practical tips to help nonprofits reach their advocates and drive results with email.

NEW YORK, December 12, 2017 — Email is a critical channel for nonprofits, enabling them to mobilize supporters and promote worthy causes in an effective and cost efficient way. In fact, nonprofits raise an average of $36 for every 1,000 email sent. But in order to influence advocates and drive change, those emails need to reach the inbox. To help nonprofit marketers optimize their email programs in preparation for 2018, data solutions provider Return Path today released The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing.

Following are a few of the report’s key insights:

  • Nonprofit senders miss the inbox with one out of every four emails. From July 2016 to June 2017, the average inbox placement rate for nonprofit marketers was just 76 percent, which means that one out of every four messages either bounced or was lost to the spam folder. This represents a huge missed opportunity for nonprofits, as fully one fourth of all petitions, event invitations, and fundraising requests aren’t reaching their intended audience.
  • Nonprofits struggle with subscriber engagement. In recent years, major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have begun to consider subscriber engagement in determining whether email should be delivered to the inbox or sent to spam. This includes metrics such as read rate, complaint rate, and “deleted without reading” rate. Report findings show that nonprofits tend to lag behind the overall average in many of these engagement metrics. For example, the read rate for nonprofit emails was just 17 percent—well below the overall average of 22 percent. Similarly, spam complaints for nonprofit emails were nearly 50 percent above the overall complaint rate (0.30 percent vs. 0.19 percent).
  • Whitelisting can help to boost deliverability for nonprofits. Nonprofits can improve their deliverability by becoming whitelisted, which confers special benefits like less stringent filtering, zero throttling, and other preferential treatment. Requirements for whitelisting vary, but typically include a stringent evaluation of sending practices, email infrastructure, and more. Report findings show that with Return Path Certification, the industry’s most widely accepted and valued whitelist, nonprofit senders saw an average of 12 percent higher inbox placement and 3 percent higher read rate compared to non-certified senders.

The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing is available for download here. You can also read some email success stories from nonprofit brands in the new Guardians of the Email Universe: Special Edition.

About Return Path
Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences and strengthen their customer engagement. We help mailbox providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam doesn’t. To find out more about Return Path solutions, visit us at or request a demo.