Having clear goals in mind before you launch any fundraising or engagement initiative makes for a straightforward evaluation process. Use your planning phase to determine how you’re going to measure success for each individual campaign and the organization as a whole. Did you meet the benchmarks you set? Were there any tactic that fell short? What was your ROI for each strategy and the overall campaign? Whether your benchmark is a sold-out event, gaining new donors, meeting or surpassing your fundraising goal, or creating great word of mouth; a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish sets you up for a successful campaign.
An important part of any campaign is the ability to track your progress and final results against your goals and objectives. Your data shows you where you can build off your successes and identifies opportunities for improvement. Schedule monthly, or at least quarterly, check-ins to review your progress. If you see your events are surpassing your projections, but you’re falling short of your goal for major gifts, you know you have to change course and dedicate more attention to major donor cultivation efforts. By reviewing your progress regularly, you have time to alter your plan before it’s too late.
You don’t need a whole system of complicated (and time-consuming) calculations to measure benchmarks. All you need is the ability to pull your data into one location so you can review it easier. If your database isn’t especially adept at helping you track key indicators, you’ll end up wasting precious time that you should be using to fundraise. The right fundraising software helps you execute your plan and meet your goals.
Three key fundraising metrics to watch over the course of your fiscal year:
- Retention Rate: How many of your donors are renewing their gifts every year?
- Average Gift: Hopefully, your average gift size is increasing year over year, showing deeper investment by your donors. If it isn’t, what ways can you build better relationships and communicate more effectively across multiple channels?
- Cost to Raise a Dollar (CTRD): How much are you spending compared to how much you’re raising? If you have a small staff and limited budget, focus on those activities that have the highest ROI. For example, the cost to raise a dollar through events is the highest of all fundraising activities—at a whopping $.40 per $1.00 raised compared to $.15 per $1.00 for major gifts. Focus your efforts on strategies that have the best return on your investment of time and resources.
A good fundraising plan is like a recipe. It spells out the exact mix of targets, strategies, roles, and responsibilities so everyone can work towards the same goal. By taking regular stock of your fundraising wins, challenges, and resources, you can create a realistic roadmap that will help you grow the financial sustainability of your organization.
Download our popular eGuide, Create a Fundraising Plan That Will Propel Your Nonprofit Forward, for a deeper dive on how to start your year with a strong fundraising plan.