CharityComms Digital Benchmark

The CharityComms Digital Benchmark is a group of more than 60 UK charities who pool their digital data in order to compare and evaluate their online performance. Get involved to find out how your charity compares.

About the Benchmark

What is the Digital Benchmark for?

The Benchmark is a unique collaboration aimed at improving the performance of all participating charities, and was recently rated good or excellent value for money by 84% of participants. It has two main objectives:

  • To allow individual charities to compare the metrics, facts and figures of their own digital activities with peer charities in the UK
  • To provide insights and ideas into how charities can develop their digital communications and fundraising work in the UK

Who is the Digital Benchmark for?

The three main intended audiences for the Benchmark are:

  • Senior management teams, both as part of an established reporting function and as justification for activity/investment
  • Digital teams, to show how performance compares to other charities
  • Other teams within the organisation, to show what is and isn’t working and to act as both stick and carrot for wider organisational digital participation

How does it work?

Participant charities grant CharityComms access to their Google Analytics data. CharityComms pulls this Analytics data from each charity into an interactive dashboard in Google Data Studio, where participant charities can see how their stats compare to their peers.

To get a feel for how it works, check out our sample version of the dashboard.

Beyond the dashboard, we also run an annual survey of participants to provide more detailed insight into online fundraising and campaigning, the results of which are delivered at an annual meeting.

What metrics are included in the Benchmark?

Have a look at a sample version of the dashboard, which includes all the metrics we currently report on. We compare performance in four areas:

Overview Device Traffic Source Social media
See how your audience stacks up by comparing Sessions, Pageviews, Pages/Session, Average Session Duration, Bounce Rate, and New versus Returning Sessions. Are your users on desktop, mobile or tablet? Is your site mobile-friendly enough? Do users arrive at your website via Organic, Paid, Direct, Referral, Social, Email or Display? Which channels can you make more use of? Are you maximising traffic from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? And are your competitors making more use of Instagram, Reddit, YouTube or Pinterest?

For each of the above metrics, you can compare your charity’s data to the overall average, the average of a filtered group or with specific individual charities. You can make these comparisons over any time period within the last 370 days.

Check out how it works in our sample dashboard.

How can I use the data?

We asked participant charities how they use the data. They recommend using Benchmark data to:

  • Compare your online performance with peer charities
  • Set realistic targets
  • Drive innovation and adoption of new channels and strategies
  • Spot new trends and areas where your charity can improve
  • Make the case for increased resources for digital
  • Give senior management and other teams context around your performance

Do you measure anything else?

We also run an annual survey of participants, the results of which are reported at an annual meeting. The questions evolve every year to reflect the digital landscape, but crucial components always include:

  • the structure of digital teams and cultures
  • digital systems and tools
  • online fundraising tactics and results
  • online service provision and communities
  • online campaigning

We also plan to include more and more metrics within our dashboard as it grows, with our focus at the moment on exploring benchmarks for donation conversion rates. If there are other stats you would find useful, please get in touch

Which charities can I compare my data to?

The group of participating charities is rapidly expanding. As of 1 July 2018, participating charities included:

Action Against Hunger UK, Action for Children, ActionAid, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anthony Nolan, Arthritis Care, Arthritis Research UK, BHF, Barnardo’s, Ben – support for life, Bible Society, Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, Business Debtline, CLIC Sargent, Cats Protection, Centre for Ageing Better, Children’s Society, Concern Worldwide, Coram, Dementia UK, Dogs Trust, Girlguiding, Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, Guide Dogs, Independent Age, Kidney Research UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, London’s Air Ambulance, MS Society, MacIntyre, Mencap, Meningitis Research Foundation, Mind, Muscular Dystrophy UK, NCT, NSPCC, National Autistic Society, National Deaf Children’s Society, National Debtline, Parkinson’s UK, Plan International UK, Practical Action, RNIB, RSPCA, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, Samaritans, Scope, Scout Association, Shelter, Shooting Star Chase, Soil Association, St John Ambulance, Sue Ryder, Sustrans, Tearfund, Terrence Higgins Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity, WWF, War Child UK, World Animal Protection, Youth Music

What the participants say

“The CharityComms Digital Benchmark enables us to measure trends in our performance against peers, and identify whether the market as a whole is being affected by external conditions, or whether a trend is unique to us, therefore helping us to see where we’re going wrong, or right. Being able to improve poor performance or further boost positive results helps us to make the most of our resources and ensure we’re getting the best value possible from our digital channels, and where relevant, providing the best service we can to our supporters and stakeholders”.

Sally O’Connell, head of digital, ActionAid

How much does it cost to participate?

Participation costs £400+vat per calendar year for CharityComms organisational members. For non-members, it costs £1,000+vat.

If you’re not sure whether your charity is a CharityComms member, you can check our members list here. You can also find out more about all the benefits of CharityComms membership here.

Please note, your whole charity must have organisational membership to be eligible for the discounted price. Individual membership will not make your charity eligible for the discount. 

What do you need from participant charities?

If your charity wants to join, we will need four things:

  1. Access to a Google Analytics view containing your website’s data, which is maintained in accordance with our guidelines. Instructions on how to set that view up can be found here.
  2. A commitment to complete our annual survey as fully as you can. The survey is usually conducted over the summer and consists of around 50 questions.
  3. Payment – see above for details.
  4. Acceptance of our terms and conditions, which can be found here.

Who can join the Benchmark?

The Benchmark is only open to charities and not-for-profit organisations. It is aimed at charities who:

  • have an annual income over £1m
  • receive on average more than 10,000 sessions to their UK website per month

Beyond these criteria, we recommend looking at the list of current participants to see if you feel that all or some of the charities involved are worth comparing your data to. The dashboard allows you to filter which charities you compare with, so as long as you feel there are some worthwhile comparisons to be made, we’d love for you to participate.

When can I join?

We add new participants to the Benchmark every quarter, so you can start including your data from any of the following dates: 1 January, 1 April, 1 July, 1 October.

Fill in this form to sign up in time for the next quarter.

Please note, you will need to create your new Benchmarking Google Analytics view (instructions here) and notify us of it at least 21 days before the start of a quarter. We may also be able to arrange access for you to view the dashboard before we add your data in, though payment will need to be made before any access is granted.

Who else will be able to see our data?

All charities who participate in the Benchmark will be able to see your data. We also work with external suppliers to deliver the Benchmark, who may be able to see your data. All external suppliers sign an NDA before we allow them access to any sensitive data.

No one else will be allowed to access your charity’s data (though we may share certain trends and top-level statistics based on aggregate data, as detailed in our Ts&Cs).

Who else do you work with?

The latest Digital Benchmark dashboard was built in collaboration with digital marketing agency upriseUP and digital expert Bertie Bosrédon.

Both upriseUP and Bertie advise and assist us with the Benchmark so that we can provide the best possible product for participating charities. 

How can I sign up?

If you’d like to join, please fill in this form. If you have any questions, please email Sarah Clarke.