A fundraising consultant I know asked me the other day what data I felt was the most important to pay attention to when running a membership program. The question caught me a bit off-guard because I am so intensely focused on the creative end of things for my clients that it becomes very easy for me to gloss over the numbers side of things. But my colleague's question reminded me that I do, in fact, pay close attention to a few key metrics. After all, how do you know what really works for your donors if you can't measure your results?
Here are 3 key measurements I look at when developing a creative strategy:
This is a big one because it tells you what portion of your membership is responding to your fundraising efforts. If you're keeping a close eye on this number, you can learn which subjects your donors are most interested in funding, or which renewal effort is not pulling its weight.
That said, if you don't know what other organizations in your sector are getting percentage-wise and you don't have years of data about your own organization, then the number can be a little meaningless. Is a 4% response on an appeal good or bad?
That's why it's critical to track this number over many mailings and a long period of time. It's a great starting point for knowing how your creative efforts are performing.
A high average gift could show you what your donors feel most strongly about. Say you sent one appeal asking for money for a physical project, and one asking for program support and both received the same percent response from your donors. If one of those asks garnered a $50 average gift while the other only reached $35, then you have a good indication of what your donors think is important.
Of course, you often get a higher average gift when you're sending to your most loyal donors, so don't get too excited until you compare your populations. And remember to toss out any unusually high gifts before you calculate this number. One $1,000 donation can skew your data.
Since I'm most decidedly not a data expert, I turned to this post on the Donor Perfect blog to explain this stat and how to calculate it.
Knowing your donors' lifetime value is a key part of a good long-term strategy. From deciding when to mail and how much to spend, to developing donor cultivation and retention plans, this number will help you refine your fundraising efforts.
Find your data experts
I am the first to admit that I am not a data pro. But I know that these statistics can help me hone a creative strategy, so I listen to the data experts in my life.
Data folks: what did I miss? Are there other numbers I need to start paying attention to? Help me and my fellow creative types create the best fundraising packages we can by sharing the numbers we need to know!