NetChange | Part 5: Money

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Part 5: Money

2013 Budgets allocated for digital

Question: What is the current budget allocated to your digital / online initiatives per year including staff costs? 

41% of all organizations in the survey had a digital budget of between $50K and $250K.

For small orgs, the majority budget size is $50K-$250K. For medium orgs, the majority budget size was also $50K to $250K. For large orgs, 33% had a budget between $50K and $250K and 33% had a budget of $250K to $500K. For very large orgs, the majority budget size is $1M+.

41%$50K - $250K

19%$250K - $500K

16%Less than $50K

13%$1M +
11%$500K to $1M
Where we spend our money

Question: What percentage of your digital budget is allocated to the following general line items? 

Core staff make up the vast majority of most respondent’s digital budgets. The amount spent on “hosting, software licenses, etc.” is low in both small and very large orgs, but shows its budget footprint in medium and large orgs.

“Research and development, new tools and sites” was a healthy percentage, especially in medium to large organizations. Advertising and list acquisition remain a very small line item – below 5% of the total budget (and, we suspect for many respondents, it’s less than 1%). 

Budget Expenditures



While it’s great to see real R&D budgets showing up in more orgs, we’re disappointed with how few of our resources go towards advertising and list growth. Given that many of us compete for attention against very well resourced corporate or political opponents, we’d like to see a minimum of 5% allocated to outbound marketing in the future.

Are we still under funded?

Question: Is your budget appropriate to enable you to address your core priorities? 

The majority of groups report they are doing fine budget wise. 44% are “just a little under-funded” with 19% reporting “appropriate” funding. 38% report they are either under-funded, or “significantly under-funded” for what they are asked to deliver.

44%Sort of

We are just a little under-funded


We are under-funded


We are appropriately funded

5%Not at all

We are significantly under-funded


These numbers are similar to 2011 data and show that, despite our progress in other areas, advocating for the funding our digital programs require remains a challenge for today’s leaders.

What’s the plan for 2014?

Question: What is the plan for digital spending in 2014?

A full 49% of respondents expect their budgets to increase modestly or significantly this year. 45% will stay the same, and only 6% will decrease in 2014.

The numbers in 2011 were similar, with 57% expecting to increase their budgets, 32% staying the same, and 10% decreasing.


Stay the same



Increase modestly



Increase significantly






It’s good to end on a positive note. Given the continued prominence most institutions are placing on digital, our program budgets need to continue to grow to enable us to fully realize the opportunities available for innovation in advocacy, fundraising, promotions, and engagement.

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