For many organizations, June marks the halfway point of their fiscal year, and consequently, provides a good time to check in on your goals. With 6 months of fundraising data collected, you can glean a lot of insights into whether you are on target to meet your annual fundraising goals.
To start this mid-year check-in process, let’s review some key performance indicators (KPIs) that offer fundraising insights and that you are (hopefully) already tracking.
- Dollars Raised – This one is very easy! Just track total fundraising revenue secured. To make it a bit more insightful, break it down by fundraising appeal/activity.
- Fundraising Return on Investment (ROI) – Tracking ROI allows you to monitor the value of different fundraising techniques. To calculate, divide your revenue by expenses. Once you’ve done that, if the number is greater than 1, you’ve raised money.
- Donor Growth – To track whether you are growing your donorbase, you need to monitor your total number of donors. Two important metrics that go along with this are:
- New donors – How many first-time donors did you attract? The higher the number, the better.
- Donor Retention – Are donors who gave last year, giving again this year? Again, the higher the number, the better.
- Average Gift Size - To calculate, divide your revenue for a certain fundraiser or time period by the amount of gifts you received in that same window.
- Major Gifts – What ‘major’ means depends on your organization. Larger, more established nonprofits generally set this threshold at $10,000 while smaller organizations can set it as low at $1,000. What’s important is that you know what it means to you, and you monitor accordingly
- Number of Major Donors – To determine whether you are acquiring new major donors, you need to monitor your overall number of major donors (individual, corporate and foundation).
- Average Major Gift Size – This is just like average gift size, but exclusively for major gifts. Again, the definition of ‘major’ is up to your organization to determine. What’s important is that the average size of your major gifts increases.
So as we review this data half-way through the fiscal year, what should we be looking for? And, if needed, how do we course-correct?
If your current dollars raised is falling short of your overall annual goal, you’re going to want to take rather swift action. But first, you need to know why it’s down. Did a specific appeal fall short? Are donors overall just giving smaller gifts? Did you lose donors or are you slow to acquire new ones? These are all important questions to answer so that you can make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.
Let’s start with ROI, did it decrease because attendance at your spring fundraiser was down, did you lose a significant sponsor, was the auction not a success? While exactly what happened is important to know so that you can adjust your efforts for your next event, what we’re concerned about during this mid-year check-in is how to make up for the shortfall in the current fiscal year. A few ideas, include:
- Think about how you can potentially engage the lost sponsor in another way. Is there another event that want to support? Do they have grant funding available to support a program? Would they prefer to tie their giving to a volunteer project?
- Directly reach out to those supporters who normally attend the event but didn’t participate this year. Find out why they stayed home and try to engage them in other ways. If they have been loyal supporters, it’s critical to continue to cultivate the relationship. By opening up a dialogue you can learn more about why they were supporting and tailor a different ask.
- Plan for a special online and/or direct mail appeal to capture some of the lost revenue. While the event may not have been as successful as hoped, don’t let it hold you back from continuing to engage your supporters in other strategic ways.
Next, did your donor base become stagnate or decrease? If so, you’ll want to increase efforts to find new donors while also working more diligently to retain current donors. These metrics work in tandem so addressing any shortfalls should be considered concurrently.
- Are you thanking donors thoughtfully and immediately?
- Are you demonstrating how donations directly impact those you serve? Is this done both through data/metrics as well as through stories?
- Is it easy to give to your organization? What ways do you offer and are they easy for donors to to identify?
- How are you finding new donors? Are you utilizing your board? Do they understand this is a critical part of their role?
Is your average gift size not growing or are you not increasing the number of major donors?
- How are you prioritizing communication with supporters? Is outreach staying top of mind?
- Are your solicitations personalized? Are you asking donors for what they want to support and at what level? Or, are you just sending mass appeals?
- Are your efforts merely transactional (ticket sales) or are you building meaningful relationships?
- Do you have a formal stewardship plan? Is it effective at keeping donors engaged?
- Do donors have relationships with staff (fundraisers, CEO, volunteer coordinator, etc)?
If you're reviewing your mid-year goals and feeling overwhelmed at how to course correct or address some of the KPIs outlined above, our team can help. We specialize in helping nonprofits create and execute their annual fundraising plans, as well as developing new revenue opportunities that can help fill shortfalls.
Reach out any time for advice or more information about our fundraising services by emailing me at Rachel@DetroitPhilanthropy.com.
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About Rachel M. Decker
Having spent nearly 20 years in the nonprofit sector as an effective and strategic fundraising and foundation executive, Detroit Philanthropy Founder and President, Rachel Decker is passionate about helping others, making meaningful connections, solving problems and, most importantly, creating impact in our community. With the founding of Detroit Philanthropy, she turned that passion into a commitment to champion philanthropy throughout metro Detroit as a philanthropic advisor, fundraising consultant and speaker.