The Importance of Evaluating the Methodology
The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and M+R Strategic Service recently released their 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. This study provides data and analysis on a number of key topics for nonprofit organization including advocacy, fundraising, mobile usage, online messaging, and social media.
The importance of data quality and integrity is a topic that has been discussed often in this space. We are confident that the authors of this study used viable data and worked to maintain its quality throughout. The analysis provided in the study is thoughtful and aware that much of what they share is speculation and educated guesses. We highly recommend you read the entire report, as the information provided is insightful and well researched. But, if you are a small nonprofit organization be sure to take the size of the charities researched into consideration.
We’ve spoken about the differences between small nonprofits and large nonprofits, especially in nation-wide reports. This study illustrates that not all “small” nonprofits are the same. Participating organizations are broken down into groups – small, medium, and large. These groups are not based on income level, but by email list and Facebook fan page size. 55 nonprofit organizations agreed to participate in their study. Nonprofits were grouped by size for email list as follows: Small – Under 100,000; Medium – 100,000-500,000; Large – Over 500,000. Similarly, Facebook Fan page size groups were defined as: Small – Under 25,000; Medium – 25,000-100,000; Large – Over 100,000.
While having 20,000 Facebook fans or an email list of 80,000 supporters may be considered small for the purpose of this study, many small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations only dream of those numbers. As of writing this, the American Lung Association, Children’s National Medical Center, Easter Seals, and the United Farm Workers have fewer than 25,000 likes on Facebook, making them some of the “small” organizations analyzed in this study.
While the data and analysis provided in the study is an excellent way to learn more about the nonprofit marketplace, you must be sure you’re comparing yourself to those in your peer group. The conclusions and evaluations that you develop should always be based on data that is reliable and appropriate. Always ensure that you understand the information that you’re reading and if it’s applicable for your use.