Online Fundraising
February 2, 2022

A Stepwise Approach to Analyze Fundraising Campaigns

In most nonprofit organizations, plans and strategies rarely change. The norm is usually to adopt strategies from the previous years, tweak a few things and call it a day. But if you are like most successful nonprofits, you collect plenty of data after each fundraising event. Now it's time you learned how to properly analyze this valuable information so you can review past fundraising campaigns and plan better strategies for upcoming campaigns. 

Analyzing large amounts of data can feel overwhelming. A step-by-step approach will help add some method to the madness. In this article, you will discover a stepwise approach to analyzing your fundraising campaigns correctly. 

How to analyze fundraising campaigns

Step 1: Gather all the essential data

You can't make bricks without clay. The starting point of any fundraising analysis starts with bringing together all the data you may need. A good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software will help you integrate all this data in one place for easy access, from your payment processing data to your emails and any other info you may need. 

Here is a list of some of the key data that will be helpful:

  • Average Gift Size: The average dollar amount donated by each individual. 
  • Donor Lifetime Value: The amount of money you collect from a donor for the entire period of your relationship.
  • Conversion Rate: The number of times your donors went through with an action you asked.
  • Donor Acquisition Cost: The dollar amount of how much it costs to bring in a new donor.
  • Retention Rate: The number of donors who keep on giving from one specific date to another. 
  • Donor Acquisition Rate: The number of donors you acquire over the total number of active donors in your donor database during a certain period. 
  • Return on Investment (ROI): How much you generate from a fundraising event over the total expenses.

Related: 10 Success Metrics to Measure an Online Fundraising Campaign 

Step 2: Consolidate key metrics from past campaigns

No nonprofit can stay the same for too long. The trend is either to grow or shrink. This is why metrics from your previous campaigns are necessary. They will indicate where you stand now when compared to where you were before. 

Your stakeholders will want your organization to keep on growing so you can expand your impact on society. Internal benchmarking is an easy way to analyze whether you are improving.

Also, showing growth on key metrics for your organization can be a motivating factor among employees and volunteers—most people aren’t too keen to be associated with an organization that’s just getting by. 

Step 3: Know the industry benchmarks

While it's good to do an internal benchmark, it's also important to know how you stand in relation to your peers in the nonprofit industry. This can point you to the best practices others are following. You may also learn of new opportunities that might allow you to adapt and improve your operations. For instance, by looking at your peers, you may notice that most are adopting online charity raffles to supplement the income they raise via offline fundraising events.

Industry reports are a good starting point. But you can also find research studies and look at similar organizations focused on the same mission as you. 

External benchmarking is probably one of the best ways to secure the support of your stakeholders, especially if you are beating industry benchmarks. It convinces them that you have a winning team that knows what it is doing. For example, 2018 statistics showed that for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent to subscribers, nonprofits raise an average of $17. But if your organization is raising an average of $70, that could mean you are doing something right.

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Step 4: Compare current performance against key metrics

Now that you have all the data you need, compare it against key metrics, past performance, industry benchmarks, and the goals you had set. This is the only way to know for sure if you are doing good or not. 

For example: How much money did you manage to raise as compared to last year? And what did other nonprofits raise with the same activity? What does your success or failure to meet your goals say about how appealing your fundraising activities are? Can you identify the key areas that you think need improving to ensure you are being effective and efficient in your fundraising efforts? What is the best way to connect with your donors? And at what time of the year does it seem to be the best time for raising funds?

When you answer questions like these, you may identify certain activities that could provide a winning advantage. For instance, you may notice that you are spending a lot of money getting new donors. Through a systematic review like this one, you may realize that your donor retention rate is lower than the industry benchmark, necessitating that you focus on donor retention strategies. 

Related: How to Set Nonprofit Fundraising Goals that Lead to Desirable Outcomes 

Step 5: Prepare a synopsis for key stakeholders

Your key stakeholders will want to know how effective your fundraising efforts are. This is why you need to create a synopsis to communicate your findings. You can do this in the form of a presentation or a comprehensive report. Remember to highlight key takeaways and learnings. Compiling this information might give you an opportunity to look at the information in an easy-to-digest format that will be instrumental during your decision-making process. And it may also provide a record to help in future planning or analysis. 

Step 6: Use data trends to forecast and budget for future fundraisers

Now that you have just analyzed your last campaign, it's time to work on your next one. Your analysis will help you ensure you are making decisions that are in line with the changing behaviors of your donors and the industry at large. 

For instance, if you have always relied on offline events for fundraising, you may notice that going online may be the best thing as it will lower costs and expand reach.

Raising enough money to meet your goals, let alone exceed them, isn’t easy. This is why you need to be smart about it. You just can’t copy what other nonprofits are doing or reuse the same strategies you have been following for years. Analyzing your past campaigns in a stepwise manner like the one outlined in this article will ensure you are learning from your previous campaigns and are setting yourself up for success.

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