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The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insights for Better Engagement

Browse The Report

  1. Introduction
    1. A Note from Neon One
    2. Who’s Represented In This Report?
    3. Why Is Email So Important?
    4. Anatomy of an Email
  2. Nonprofit Email Deliverability & Engagement Benchmarks
    1. Introduction
    2. Nonprofit List Sizes
    3. Ask The Expert: Is List Segmentation Really That Important?
    4. Nonprofit Email Bounce Rates
    5. Nonprofit Email Open Rates
    6. Nonprofit Email Unsubscribe Rates
    7. Nonprofit Email Click-Through Rates
    8. Nonprofit Email Fundraising Performance
    9. Nonprofit Email Performance by Date & Time
    10. Email Sender Superlatives
  3. A Data-Driven Approach to Subject Lines & Preview Text
    1. Introduction
    2. Convey Positive Emotions in Subject Lines
    3. Ask the Expert: How Did You Use AI for Subject Line Sentiment Analysis?
    4. Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Subject Lines
    5. Experiment with Emojis in Subject Lines
    6. Write Compelling Preview Text
    7. Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Preview Text
    8. Put It All Together — Performance Benchmarks & Word Usage
  4. Creating Effective Emails
    1. Introduction
    2. Ask the Expert: What Should I Keep In Mind When Creating Compelling Emails?
    3. Tip #1 — Include Imagery in Your Emails
    4. Tip #2 — Pay Attention to Salutations
    5. Ask The Expert: Do Salutations Really Make a Difference?
    6. Tip #3 — Use the Word "You"
    7. Tip #4 — Make Your Message Scannable
    8. Ask The Expert: How Do I Create a Great Call to Action?
    9. Tip #5 — Include Great Calls to Action
    10. Put It All Together - Build Clear, Compelling Emails
  5. Lessons from the Most Engaging Email of 2022
    1. Introduction
    2. Top Engagement Email Dissection
    3. Go Build More Engaging Emails
  6. Data-Backed Insights for GivingTuesday and Year-End
    1. Introduction
    2. Who’s Included In This Data?
    3. GivingTuesday Fundraising Totals
    4. GivingTuesday Email Data
    5. End of Year Fundraising Totals
    6. End-of-Year Email Data
    7. Use These Data-Backed Best Practices to Nail Your GivingTuesday and Year-End Goals
    8. Now Get Out There And Write Some Emails
  7. Methodology & Appendix
    1. Methodology
    2. The Dataset
    3. Terminology and Definitions
    4. Metrics Definitions
    5. Analysis by Mission & Organization Income
    6. Analysis by Time & Date Sent
    7. Analysis by Content Sentiment
    8. Data Privacy & Security
  8. About Neon One
    1. Learn more about Neon One

Nonprofit Email Bounce Rates

Your bounce rate is the percentage of email addresses to which an email cannot be delivered. There are lots of reasons an email may bounce, and they’re divided into two categories.

There are soft bounces, which occur when someone’s inbox is full or if the email in question is too large. Soft bounces can also occur in the instance that the recipient’s email server is down. Then there are hard bounces, which can happen if the email address in question is invalid (like if it contains a typo) or doesn’t exist (as would happen if someone gave you a fake email address).

Why Is This Important?

When you have a very high bounce rate, it can have a negative impact on your email deliverability. Your emails will be more likely to be marked as spam or even blocked by certain email service providers (ESPs).

Keeping your bounce rates low will help indicate to ESPs that you’re a legitimate organization—not a spammer—whose messages deserve to be delivered. But how low is low enough? Let’s look at the data to find out.

Nonprofit Email Bounce Rate Benchmarks

What’s a reasonable email bounce rate? Here are some important benchmarks specific to nonprofits.

  • Icon of a window with an arrow that goes down and then to the right, representing bounce rate

    is the average nonprofit’s bounce rate

  • Illustration of a small blue fish
    The average small nonprofit’s bounce rate is 1.83%
  • Illustration of a large orange fish
    The average large nonprofit’s bounce rate is 1.73%

What This Means For You

If your average email bounce rate is at or below these benchmarks, congratulations! If you’ve got a higher than average bounce rate, it’s time to give your email lists a thorough cleaning.

Spend some time reviewing the contacts on your list. Don’t worry too much about soft bounces, since those are typically attributed to Illustration of Ace, of the One Bunch, holding a laptop and an email is hovering above it to symbolize bounce rate temporary situations like full email inboxes, overlarge email files, or temporary server outages. If you notice lots of soft bounces on a regular basis, try addressing the problem by ensuring your emails aren’t too big. You can start by resizing and compressing images, or you can try linking to content instead of embedding it or sending it as an attachment.

Hard bounces, meanwhile, occur because of permanent or unfixable issues, so you can safely remove those email addresses from your database. Some email platforms and donor management systems, including Neon CRM, will automatically opt out email addresses after a hard bounce. Others may require you to manually pull a list of hard bounces, which you can use to remove invalid addresses from your database.