Email scores for charities

Digital marketing skills benchmark - UK market

The digital marketing competencies of marketers in the charity sector lag behind those in the private sector, with usability, content marketing, and SEO techniques amongst the most lacking skills, new research reveals.

According to the benchmark study carried out by Target Internet and The Chartered Institute of Marketing the charity sector scored below average in 10 out of 12 core digital marketing competencies, and when comparing skill sets across professions, the sector was also behind industries in the private sector.

The second edition of the study assessed the digital marketing skills of 9,000 UK based marketing professionals, including just over 500 marketers working in the charity. The test required marketers to complete a series of tasks aimed at testing their knowledge in 12 areas of marketing, with a particular focus on digital.

Findings show that the charity sector scored below average in 10 out of 12 core digital marketing competencies, and when comparing skill sets across professions, the sector was also behind industries in the private sector.

Some of the key findings include Social Media, Search Engine Optimisation and Usability have all seen slight decreases in scores since the initial report two years ago. This is indicative of the increasing complexity of these disciplines and the level of knowledge required to achieve similar benchmarked scores.

However, there has been a slight improvement in the knowledge of the fundamentals of Content Marketing across some industries and levels of seniority.

Another interesting observation has been the trust in Email Marketing by marketers. But in some industries, the score or trust for Email Marketing has shown negative growth. However, the Nonprofit or the Charity world has continued the trust.

Charities trusting email has been the trend, especially during the COVID19 when communication(from trusted sources) has become crucial. According to Campaign Monitor majority of the nonprofits in the COVID19 world have struggled because most of them built around in-person meetings or volunteering, COVID-19 has placed a burden on a sector that, due to its precise mission statements and scopes of work, may have a harder time pivoting services.

But subscribers show that they’re eager to see the good in the world. Year over year, there’s been a rise in nearly 40% send volume for this sector, an almost 17% increase in opens, and 11.5% additional clicks in March 2020. Traditionally one of the best-performing industries, nonprofits continue to show that they have captive audiences.

The Digital Marketing Benchmark study also provides a detailed breakdown of industries shares that with Email Marketing trust and knowledge of other aspects of digital have increased.

This reflects an industry that is making better-planned use of the opportunities of social media. However there has been in a dip in analytics skills and the industry is slightly behind average in this area, meaning that any improvements in digital strategy may not be best informed.

If you see the above scorecard: there has been a significant positive change in areas like Digital Strategy(+10%), Online Advertising(+7%), and Social Media(+9%). 

These changes are not significant when it comes to industry standards:

41%, in comparison to a 47% average, possess the skills required to carry out fundamental marketing activities such as strategy implementation, audience segmentation, and brand building techniques.

The sector also performed worst in some of the newest forms of digital marketing including usability (scoring 24% compared to the 28% average), content marketing (23% vs. 28% average), and SEO (28% vs the 34% average).

Charities can’t avoid different elements of digital marketing if they really want to harness the effectiveness of online fundraising. However, you can’t do everything at one go. You will fail.

Earlier last week a decade-old nonprofit wanted my help to start their digital journey. “We want to raise 8-10L every month from digital, starting next month.” I excused myself from the engagement because I don’t have the skills to do online fundraising for a nonprofit that has zero maturity to online fundraising.

Posting social media updates isn’t online fundraising

Even if you burn money on digital advertising by posting crying babies, you might raise money for a month or two but it will dry up. Digital advertising can’t be your online fundraising strategy it can only amplify your communication.

Don’t be in a hurry to catch the bus of Digital Transformation because the virus has made it cool. Digital isn’t a magic wand that will raise tons of money for your cause every month. It works like any other medium.

I also believe that other modes of fundraising will still be important, just that be more realistic and thoughtful while defining your digital objectives.

P.S. I recently renamed my blog to with a lame logo that has my initials. You will also receive my emails from I suck when it comes to naming and I also love myself far too much.

Lighthouse Insights (my startup) was closed in July 2017 so makes no sense to keep it alive in any form. When I started writing on Substack (Oct 2019) I had plans to revamp my startup and I was very much attached. I have no more such plans.

Why a black and white logo? White stands for ‘Hope’.

Anyway, it changes nothing. I will keep writing until I find value. I felt like informing you.

Thank You!