There’s always room for improvement when it comes to how your nonprofit fundraises, no matter the size of your organization or how long you’ve been in operation. There are a number of ways you can improve your fundraising approach, from investing in better donation tools and experimenting with new communication strategies to trying fresh campaigns that your supporters haven’t seen before.
But unless you’re consistently tracking your progress from past and current fundraising campaigns and putting that information into action, many of your improvements will be shots in the dark that you can only hope will boost your results.
That’s where fundraising key performance indicators (KPIs), also known as fundraising metrics, come into play. These pieces of data, like donor retention rate or average gift size, can help you learn what in your approach is working and what could use some tuning up.
However, there are a lot of KPIs out there to choose from, which can make it overwhelming to know where to start chipping away at the weak spots in your fundraising strategy. In this article, we’ll cover four quick tips to help your team choose fundraising campaign KPIs that will provide you with the insight you need to move forward with positive momentum. Let’s dive in.
1. Assess your previous campaigns.
You can’t know where you’re going until you understand where you’ve been. The first thing you’ll need to do in the process of choosing fundraising KPIs is to assess your previous campaigns.
Apply a critical eye to your past results and processes, asking yourself questions like:
Which campaigns were most successful?
Which campaigns were least successful?
Which marketing channels seem to best reach our donors?
Which fundraising methods appeared to work for us in the past? (E.g. text-to-give, P2P, crowdfunding, telefundraising, etc.)
Which fundraising events generated the most excitement?
Has our organization been successful in thanking and stewarding donors after our fundraising campaigns have ended?
What parts of our current fundraising process are costing our organization excessive time, money, and stress?
These questions can help you start identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your fundraising strategy. For example, you might realize that your organization’s online campaigns seem to present more challenges than your in-person fundraising events. Or, you might see that the campaigns where you relied heavily on social media to get the word out have been the most successful.
Pinpointing the areas where you’re succeeding and falling short can help you know what aspects of your strategy you need to target when tracking fundraising KPIs and help you pick the most relevant metrics.
2. Familiarize yourself with common fundraising KPIs.
There are dozens of fundraising metrics your organization can track. But there is such a thing as having too much information on your hands. Familiarize yourself with the different fundraising KPIs so that you can make careful decisions about the metrics that you actually want and need to track in order to improve your fundraising and not get overwhelmed.
Here are a few common examples pulled from DonorSearch’s roundup of fundraising metrics, organized into different focus areas:
General Fundraising KPIs
Cost Per Dollar Raised: Tells you whether your organization raised money, lost money, or broke even
Matching Gift Rate: The percentage of donations that were matched through a corporate philanthropy program
Board Member Participation Rate: The percentage of board members who contribute to your nonprofit on an annual basis
Donor Relationship KPIs
Donor Acquisition Cost: How much money your nonprofit spends from its budget to acquire a single donor
Donor Retention Rate: The percentage of donors your organization retains over a set period of time (i.e. a year-to-year basis, or from campaign to campaign)
Donor Churn Rate: The percentage of donors your organization does not retain over a set period of time
Online Performance KPIs
Online Gift Percentage: The percentage of donations that come from your online giving form
Email Open Rate: The percentage of email recipients who actually open your emails
Website Landing Page Conversion Rate: The percentage of web page visitors that complete the goal action on the landing page (i.e. donating, signing up to volunteer, registering for an event, etc.)
Social Media Amplification Rate: The ratio of shares per social media to the number of overall followers you have on that platform
You should also know the difference between leading and lagging fundraising KPIs. Leading KPIs predict future campaign performance, while lagging KPIs measure past performance.
For example, donor retention rate would be considered a leading KPI because it indicates the support you’re likely to receive in the future. Average gift size or event attendance, on the other hand, would be considered lagging KPIs because they measure what actually happened during a campaign.
3. Select relevant KPIs and begin tracking them consistently.
After evaluating your past campaign performance and considering different KPIs, it’s time to select the KPIs that you want to track. Start with tracking a handful of metrics in your biggest problem areas so that you can concentrate your improvement efforts where you need them the most.
Once you decide on your KPIs, you need to track and monitor them consistently. This will take some time, so be ready for the long game and make sure you have the right tools on your side.
You’ll rely on regularly-updated donor records in your CRM, and other tools like Google Analytics and your website builder to provide you with data. Encourage each team within your organization to keep accurate records of the campaign aspects they’re in charge of—whether that be marketing, making fundraising asks, or sending out donor thank-you notes.
4. Make a plan to take action on what you learn from your fundraising KPIs.
Tracking fundraising KPIs consistently won’t do your organization any good unless you have a plan in place for taking action on the information you’ve gathered. So, resolve to watch for trends and patterns that you can use to inform your efforts to improve your approach.
For example, after tracking information from five fundraising campaigns, you might notice a trend in your online gift percentage—it’s staying at a steady 20%. Knowing this, your team could consider implementing some donation form design best practices to boost online gifts. Or, you might note that the donors you retain after events typically stay engaged with your organization after receiving regular text messages. Tinker with the wording of each event-focused text message to make sure it packs an extra punch and inspires them to continue their involvement.
Sometimes your organization might find it difficult to know how to move forward with the information you’ve gathered from metric tracking, even if there are clear trends and patterns. In this case, you should consider working with a nonprofit consultant who can provide a third-party, expert perspective on your fundraising strategy and make suggestions for how you can improve based on your metrics data.
According to Donorly’s guide to hiring a fundraising consultant, the right consultant will be invested in your organization’s larger vision and goals, so make sure to handle the selection process with care. Look for someone who has a strong grasp on fundraising KPIs and can help you not only come up with ideas for improving your strategy but also help you implement those improvements!
Information is power, especially when it comes to fundraising. By carefully choosing and tracking the right fundraising KPIs, your organization can make progress toward sustainable progress and organizational growth. Use these tips to get started selecting your fundraising KPIs today. You’ve got this! Want to learn how HelloFund can help with your next Gala, Auction or Fundraiser?