6 Important Donor Metrics For Your Fundraising Records

The following is a guest post, from our friends at CharityEngine.

Nonprofit fundraising is key for organizations to advance their missions. While your mission is at the heart of your organization1, fundraising is how you work toward that mission.

Therefore, your nonprofit should be focused on improving and maximizing your fundraising initiatives as much as possible. The key to this improvement? Data.

Donor metrics are what your nonprofit can use to take your fundraising to the next level. When you track the best metrics, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy in order to make adjustments that will maximize your efforts. 

Before you can dive into these metrics to determine strengths and weaknesses, you should make sure your donor database is clean. Starting off with proper data hygiene helps ensure you get an accurate read on all of your data. Make sure you deduplicate information, purge lapsed donors, and have a successful strategy to organize your data.

After your current data is clean, you can start evaluating metrics for better data collection and analysis in the future. Some of the most important metrics to keep an eye on include: 

  1. Donor Retention Rate
  2. Event Data
  3. Donor Connections
  4. Website Visitation
  5. Wealth Indicators
  6. Outreach Data

As you look through these metrics, make sure your nonprofit’s CRM solution2 will effectively track the most important data. If it won’t track these metrics, it may be time to look for a new solution; or if you’re unsure, you may consider opening a discussion with the software support team or a fundraising consultant. 

Ready to learn more about donor metrics? Let’s dive in.

Did you know it’s much more efficient to retain donors than to acquire new ones? Generally, nonprofits make a huge effort to acquire new donors in order to grow the organization. However, it makes little difference (and costs a lot more) to try to grow your organization this way without first ensuring a good retention rate. 

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report3, the average donor retention rate for nonprofits from 2016 to 2017 was 45.5%. Working to exceed this average and maximize your nonprofit’s retention rate will ultimately raise more and help your organization grow. 

The key to improving your donor retention rate is: stewarding the donor journey. 

By leveraging your donor management software to its fullest extent, your nonprofit can implement a smarter engagement strategy to encourage each donor to have a higher lifetime value.4 

Some of the strategies your nonprofit can implement to nurture each supporter’s donor journey include:

  • Offering a recurring donation option on your donation page
  • Personalizing outreach to match the interests of your supporters
  • Streamlining each opportunity to contribute to facilitate the process for the supporter
  • Providing additional engagement opportunities like becoming a peer-to-peer fundraiser, advocate, or volunteer

Keep an eye on your nonprofit’s donor retention rate from year to year. Make sure it’s always growing! 

While growing your retention rate is necessary for organization growth, that doesn’t mean you should totally let your acquisition strategies go to the wayside. There is still a natural lapse rate among donors that your nonprofit will need to make up for by acquiring new supporters. Striking the balance between retention and acquisition is key for nonprofit success! 

Events are an incredible indicator of supporter engagement. It’s also an opportunity for them to donate to your nonprofit. If you don’t record the fundraising details from your event, you’re likely missing a lot of this vital information. 

Therefore, make sure to track metrics related to events for each of your donors. Make sure you know exactly what metrics are pulled from your SchoolAuction.net site versus your CRM. Then, consolidate it all in corresponding donor profiles. Track metrics such as: 

  • The events attended by supporters
  • Any additional donations made by supporters at the event
  • Number of tickets purchased and any friends or family who attend with a supporter
  • Hours spent volunteering at your nonprofit’s events
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns the supporter participates in and the amount raised
  • States from which your supporters register to attend the event

In addition to keeping tabs on the engagement activities of your supporters, be sure to pull reports on the event itself. 

Comprehensive event reports can show you how successful your promotion and planning strategies were. Then, the next time you host an event, your organization can make the necessary adjustments to make sure it’s as successful as it can be. 

Use a trial balloon before settling on a new event theme5, anticipate peer-to-peer fundraising participation by looking at averages from years past, and conduct A/B testing to make sure your organization’s marketing initiatives are as successful as possible.

You never know what connections your nonprofit’s supporters might have that you can call on at different times of need. 

While not necessarily a traditional numerical metric, building out your donor’s profiles to include connections can prove worthwhile for improving your organization’s fundraising data. 

Be sure to build out your donor profiles to include connections such as: 

  • Family members. Knowing the other members of a household can help your organization ensure you don’t address too many people. For instance, if a supporter and their significant other both give to your nonprofit, you can save on direct mail by sending a message to a single household rather than sending a message to both. 
  • Employers. The employer of your donor is another valuable source of information. For example, you can have direct insight into if your donor works for a company with a matching gift program6. Or, if a supporter is a business owner, you may be able to appeal to them for a sponsorship in the future. 
  • Commonalities with other supporters. When your supporters share commonalities, you might be able to discover new sources of effective donor acquisition. Let’s say a large proportion of your nonprofit’s supporters went to college together, you may reach out to others at that college to also get involved. 

Donor connections are valuable sources of information that can support  the other fundraising metrics at your nonprofit. Tracking them is the first step, then analyze and leverage them to best benefit your organization’s mission.

Using your CMS or analytics tools, you should track the visitation metrics on your nonprofit’s website. Your website is the core resource that supporters and potential donors use to learn more about your organization.

These analytics can provide a lot of information about your marketing goals. For instance, you can see what percentage of your website visitors come from your social media outreach or how many are driven to your site through organic search results. 

Plus, this will show you what pages on your site are the most popular landing pages that drive the interest of your supporters. For instance, you may find that your online auction7 drives a lot of traffic from your social media marketing campaign. 

You can take this idea a step further if your nonprofit software allows your organization to track the navigation taken on the website as well. Then, you’ll get an idea about how many people navigate from your home page to a fundraising campaign page. 

With this data, your nonprofit can learn things like: 

  • How effectively people can find your organization online. If your organization doesn’t seem to be ranking or found through organic traffic very frequently, it might be time to look into some SEO tools to improve your site’s visibility. 
  • What the bounce rate is for campaign pages. If a lot of people are bouncing from your fundraising pages, it may be time to revisit those pages and better organize them to streamline the giving process. 
  • Where your website visitors reside. If you have a growing number of supporters and interested prospects that live far away, you may adjust your strategy to appeal to them. For example, hosting an online auction rather than a localized event may better engage these prospects and help them get involved. 

If your nonprofit wants to leverage search engines better to help supporters find the organization, you may consider implementing SEO strategies and looking into Google ad grants8. Google offers free advertising for nonprofits through its ad grant program, helping your organization populate the results page for search queries pertaining to your organization’s mission.

Wealth indicators are important for organizations to make sure they’re asking for the right donation amount from supporters. This is especially important for capital campaigns and other major fundraising initiatives so that your nonprofit can discuss the campaign with major prospects and develop a well-informed gift range chart. 

Use past fundraising metrics (such as the largest gift donated by individuals, their first donation, and their frequency of giving) in conjunction with wealth indicators from additional wealth screening activities9 to identify prospects for major and mid-level gifts before you make an ask. 

Some of the wealth indicators your nonprofit should look for include:

  • Stock ownership
  • Real estate ownership
  • Political contributions
  • Past philanthropic donations

All of these elements can provide valuable insight as to the capacity at which a supporter can give. This way, you won’t oversell or undersell your ask. You’ll get it just right!

Metrics regarding your organization’s outreach strategy can help your nonprofit better execute effective marketing. Make sure your content is being read by your supporters and leading them to your most relevant engagement opportunities. 

Check out different metrics that indicate the engagement your supporters have with your outreach efforts. For instance, look at things like: 

  • Email open rates
  • Email click-through rates
  • New social media follows10
  • Click-through rates on social media
  • Advertisement success rates

By analyzing your organization’s outreach, your nonprofit can better optimize your marketing initiatives to better appeal to your supporters. 

When looking to improve these metrics, your organization should make sure your outreach is personalized with the supporter’s name and relevant information, uses eye-catching calls-to-action, and is branded with your organization’s colors and images. 


Donor metrics are important for your organization to effectively grow and improve your various strategies. Make sure you track all of the relevant data points for your organization to improve and reach your goals. 

To learn more about donor metrics and the importance of a data-informed strategy, check out the resources below. 

Resources

  1. https://www.schoolauction.net/blog/getting-to-the-heart-of-the-matter/
  2. https://charityengine.net/nonprofit-crm-guide/
  3. http://afpfep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-Fundraising-Effectiveness-Survey-Report.pdf
  4. https://charityengine.net/donor-management-software/
  5. https://www.schoolauction.net/blog/themeinspiration/
  6. https://www.360matchpro.com/top-matching-gift-companies/
  7. https://www.schoolauction.net/blog/about-online-auctions/
  8. https://recharity.ca/google-ad-grants-for-nonprofits/
  9. https://doublethedonation.com/tips/wealth-screenings-maximize-the-benefits/
  10. https://www.schoolauction.net/blog/school-auction-social-media-strategy-series-content/

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