We love a data nerd whose also great at writing and fundraising strategy, so we are big fans of Somya Qureshi! Not sure where to start when digging into your fundraising database? Somya tells you where to begin. ~Kivi
Guest Post by Somya Qureshi at Nonprofit Ninja
If you have already implemented donor-centric newsletters and built a strong communications calendar, but are still looking for that extra edge in nonprofit communications to help you raise more dollars, then don’t look further, look inside – into your world of data. Even the world famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, once said, “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”
And to those of you who are yet to nail that perfect newsletter or finalize the calendar, taking a look at the numbers still makes sense; because who and how you’re messaging is as important as what you’re saying. And, then again, taking that brave new step into the alien world of targeted mailing – that’s exciting!
As a small to mid-size organization, and/ or starting out with data analysis for the first time, here are some of the key metrics worth measuring regularly:
- New Donors – Are you measuring regularly how many new donors you are acquiring or adding to your donor database? Or the new sign-ups/opt-ins for your e-news and printed communications? The number of sign-ups is a little easier to monitor every month or once a quarter through a simple spreadsheet. But measuring new donors who mail in checks throughout the year can get a little tricky if you do not have a donor database. However, keeping track of these new donors is very important (through a manual entry spreadsheet if needed) as it gives you a great metric to measure year after year, and helps you set new goals for the next fiscal. The goal is to consistently grow your number of new donors.
- Retained Donors – How many donors are you retaining year after year? This metric is even more important than the ‘new donors’ as the age old marketing axiom goes; it always costs more to acquire a new ‘customer’ than to retain one. And so is true with your donors! This metric may very well be the magical key to the kingdom of ‘infinite’ funds that you seek (if there exists one!) For the last month of your organization’s fiscal or calendar year, look at all those donors who gave last year and gave again this year – that will give you the number of donors you retained, and you similarly work backwards to find your retained donors over the last two or three years. Monitoring the retention rate of your current donors and striving to constantly improve that rate (or number) is the goal.
- Lapsed Donors – So, what happened to all those donors your organization did not retain? They lapsed! Analytically, it’s easier to filter your lapsed donors when you measure your previous metric of retained donors. All those who gave last year but did not give this year have lapsed. Having a plan to welcome back your lapsed donors is important; maybe a special mailer that acknowledges their absence and rebuilds that relationship. If you only had the last few marketing dollars in your budget, you would be better served spending them all on your lapsed donors, rather than a prospective mailing for new donors. Lapsed donors lapse for a reason – maybe not enough thanks, gratitude, acknowledgment, recognition, or reporting from the organization they gave their hard earned money to. But remember, these donors care and they know who you are in the community. Measuring this regularly and progressively reducing the number of lapsed donors is the goal.
While these basic metrics will get you started on the path of thinking analytically about your campaigns and measuring them – this is just the start! What you do with these metrics, and how you will cultivate these specific segments over a period of time is what makes these numbers come alive viz. more engagements, more funds, more retention, less attrition, less spending on mindless communication and so on.
If you’re new to the world of measuring, there’s no better time to start than right now. Think about the special “Thank you” mailer you can send out to those lapsed donors this Thanksgiving to reignite an old bond.
The more you measure what you’re doing and playing with ‘clay’, the better your chances of making great ‘bricks’ to keep that foundation of donors strong over a long period of time!
Somya Qureshi is a recovering engineer and data nerd from Winston-Salem, NC. A lifelong volunteer, social champion and business strategist, Somya has lived in three countries, speaks five languages, and reads an inordinate amount of the ‘unabridged’ version of the Sherlock Holmes series. She’s the Marketing & Fundraising Ninja at NonprofitNinja.org. Follow her on Twitter, @DoGooderNinja