August 19, 2022  |   7 min read

Metrics to Best Leverage Your Data

Your data is one of your greatest assets.  When used effectively, it can reveal information about donations, donors, events, fundraising,  campaigns, and communication. If you’ve read some of our other posts, you already know building systems to properly track and store data is the first step in this process. But what to do with that treasure trove of information?

Analyze so you can act!

Below you will find a number of helpful metrics to get you started on best utilizing the information you’re so painstakingly collecting. Before we get into them, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Data is best leveraged when compared both to your organization’s and industry standards for the same timeframe. 
  • Depending on your mission this could be a single one-day super event, week-long fundraiser, or even a month-long campaign. 
  • Once collected, these metrics can be used to show trends and show the health of your organization. 
    • They may point out areas where you are already performing well, or highlight where a new approach might be needed.  

Now, onto some Key Performance Indicators/KPIs to kickstart this process.

1. Donor Retention Rate

Donors are the lifeblood for your organization and therefore it is vital to maintain them. New donor acquisition is costly, time consuming, and often not as reliable as focusing on donor retention. Since nonprofits are in the business of making people feel good, leaving donors with a positive experience is a great start.  This means treating individuals, and even groups, differently when needed. For example, major donors may need more frequent and personalized communication whereas annual donors might do with just a tickle when it’s time to contribute.

Regardless, you will want to know your overall retention rate and, when a donor does go dormant, why. This will allow you to get ahead of donor loss and more importantly, ensure the constituency you worked so hard to develop remains as intact as possible.

2. Annual Donation Forecast

Knowing who to turn to in a pinch can be the difference between not meeting and exceeding your fundraising goals.  With proper recording in place, yearly donations can be more accurately predicted. Taking this a step further, look at how often they donated.  Did they donate once during your super cycle or several times throughout the year? While it is best to know all your donors and have great relationships, if we’re being honest, that’s unrealistic. Use your data to help you by highlighting all the possible donors that can help for those last pushes. 

3. Median Donation

Like the annual donation amount for individual donors, knowing having an understanding for your entire donor pool is also important. Do you receive many small gifts or a few large gifts? Knowing this will give you a better understanding if your organization is stretched too thin.  

When choosing between the median donation and the average donation, we recommend using the median donation. Using the median excuses outliers, therefore giving a more accurate representation of a typical donation. For example, if you have several very large donors then they would be skewing the data by raising the average donation by more than it is. Looking at the median will give you a better sense of what to expect and a more accurate financial plan.

4. Email Analytics

Emails. We get them all day, every day. Can you remember a time before email?

Email is a great way to cost effectively reach a large audience. Messages can be used from a template and easily segmented to specific groups for best results. And you’ll want to start looking closely at the results.

Email analytics to consider include send count, open rate, bounce rate, and number of clicks. Review reveals which campaigns and wordings are actually getting opened and read, and that’s the goal, right?

5. Fundraising Return on Investment AKA ROI

As they say, you have to spend money to make money. And it’s the generosity of your donors which will fuel your mission. Getting their donation takes time, effort, planning and yes, money. You will want to be aware of the ROI for each and every campaign, event or general outreach effort. If you’re spending more, either in terms of labor, consumables or a combination of both than you are generating, a new strategy might be needed. If you would like more tips and tools for tracking this metric, please see our blog post about building a budget. 

And a bonus KPI!

6. Donor Demographics

Knowing your typical donor profile – no pun intended – is hugely important to maximizing efforts across all facets of your organization. Understanding what your typical donor likes, dislikes, age, etc. will allow you to make everything you do resonate better with your audience. Events, marketing campaigns, letters – all of it. It will also make help to ensure you’re trying to add donors which are likely to remain active for long periods of time. You wouldn’t expect someone who is afraid of heights to sign up for tightrope lessons, would you? The same general concept applies here. Know your donor profile to make your effort most impactful. 

Post Tags :

About Us

DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!


Sign up for our newsletter below.