One of the quoted definitions of insanity (not from the recently revised DSM-V, or from Albert Einstein, though it’s often attributed to him): “Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Blackbaud released a study called the 2013 Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofits (a mouthful) that has some potentially sobering stats on web traffic being down 14% among nonprofit organizations.

I haven’t delved deep into the report, but here are some first thoughts:

  • While web traffic is down, online fundraising revenue grew by 11.6%. Which of these is more important to your organization? (Fewer visitors and more donations means the people who coming are more of the right kind of people in the first place.)
  • All studies are based on the sample size available–so trends (while interesting) aren’t as important as your specific stats. In the case of web traffic, it’s really simple to get connected to Google Analytics and see if your nonprofit website traffic has gone down each year. You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to wait for a study to tell you how your traffic is doing, even only a weekly basis.

But don’t embrace insanity: if your organization’s online traffic is showing a decrease month by month and year by year, the worst thing you can do is the same thing you’ve already been doing.


Create remarkable content. Increase outreach. Find out what the people who do come to your site want.

Just don’t cross your fingers and wait for the next online marketing benchmark study.