About This Report

Some Useful Definitions

Total Fundraising

Every online financial transaction

First-Time Online Donations

Donations flagged as a person’s first online transaction with the respective organization

Repeat Online Donations

Donations not flagged as a person’s first online transaction with the respective organization

Total Email List

Total sum of all records in housefile, including those that have hard-bounced and opted-out

Total Usable Email List

Total sum of records in house, NOT including those that have hard-bounced and opted-out

Sustainer Donations

Monthly recurring transactions

Study Participants

This Report includes aggregate data from January 1, 2018–December 31, 2020, from 908 mature Blackbaud Luminate Online customers—all with at least three years of consecutive usage data. Collectively over the last fiscal year, these organizations raised over $1.8 billion dollars online, handled over 24 million transactions, and sent more than 3.9 billion emails. This large data sample comes directly from the Blackbaud Luminate Online cloud-based platform, offering a direct and unique view of online engagement across the nonprofit industry. Data from other Blackbaud online fundraising tools was not included in this analysis. Year-over-year measurement is based on a consistent set of organizations in each metric. Metrics found in this Report cannot be compared with the same metrics found in prior Reports as the specific organizations included will differ. Although some commentary is included with the statistics, it is generally “what is” rather than “why” in an effort to spotlight the trends and direction.  

Organization Classification

Organizations with at least 36 complete months of data (ending December 31, 2020) in Blackbaud Luminate Online were combined into groups believed to be similar based on a common organizational mission or sector. The self-classified National Taxonomy of Exempt Entity (NTEE) verticals is the categorization guideline. In the NTEE verticals, similar cohorts are combined with other organizations that are believed to perform similarly. In other cases, the mission was so narrow that the resulting sample was too small to be statistically significant. Sectors that did not have at least 10 similar organizations with a common mission were excluded from this study. Associations and Memberships are included in calculating industry medians, but their data was excluded from sector highlights in this year’s Report.

Unless otherwise specified, all data is from U.S. organizations. Organizations that raise 90% or more of their reported funds through peer-to-peer events using Blackbaud TeamRaiser® have been excluded from this study, but are likely included in the annual Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study. 

Medians and Quartiles

All values in this Report are expressed as medians. Medians instead of averages are used to provide a more accurate view of the benchmarks. This method helps de-emphasize outliers. Medians represent the middle value between the largest and smallest in a set of numbers, so they are less likely to be influenced by extremely high or low results for some organizations. For some results, quartiles are also shown. A quartile is the data point halfway between the bottom and median or median and top. They’re not averages; they’re the metrics that fall on the dividing line between quarters of the list. 

 The Luminate Online Benchmark publication includes all revenue received through Luminate Online. No reclassifications have been applied to major gifts, employee/workplace giving, or cause marketing. Many organizations using Luminate Online, especially those in the higher email volume cohorts, receive major gifts, employee/workplace giving and other special donations through the Luminate Online web forms.  Major gifts impact the metrics (such as year over year growth) for all of the organizations in these cohorts. This is a primary reason that the benchmark study observes industry medians instead of averages that would be skewed by major gift activity. 


Using the email list and transaction data directly from nonprofit organizations using Blackbaud Luminate Online avoids two major sources of research bias common in many studies:  

  • The first, called referral bias, occurs when groups that volunteer to participate in a study often perform differently than non-volunteers. 
  • The second, called measurement bias, occurs from comparing organizations’ results from different sources and measuring them in different ways. This is commonly seen when different organizations selectively include or exclude various sources of online fundraising data, such as e-commerce, ticket sales, event registration fees, and donation form giving when defining their online revenue.  

The objective of the report is to provide the best and most accurate insight into how the industry fared in calendar year 2020. As such, organizations that did not have at least 36 months of data in Blackbaud Luminate Online are excluded, as organizations migrating to a new solution tend to perform differently than those with an established program. Because of this exclusion, the number and composition of organizations in the report will always vary slightly depending on when they join Blackbaud and when they deploy additional modules. 

Thank You Contributors

This publication would not be possible without many contributors. Thank you for sharing your expertise, time, and passion. 


  • Mike Snusz, Blackbaud Professional Services
  • Rachael Ahrens, Blackbaud Professional Services
  • Deb Ashmore, Blackbaud Professional Services
  • Erik Leaver, Blackbaud Customer Success


  • Rosita Bradham
  • Becky Kimball
  • Lauren Crawford
  • Winfield Nedrow
  • Shea Furlong
  • Stephanie Howell
  • Derek Martin
  • Tanya Turshic
  • Hannah Verbiski
  • Melissa Whetzel