3 Important Fundraising Metrics You Should Be Tracking

Posted by Sophorn Chhay on

31848488_s.jpgCopyright: olgalebedeva / 123RF Stock Photo
It’s already late fall. Before we know it, the end of the year will be here.

Just like your supporters and staff are likely doing with their New Year’s resolutions, now is a great time for your nonprofit to take stock of its current strengths and weaknesses while planning for an even brighter future.

Tracking, analyzing, and tweaking are critical in any endeavor. It is, therefore, not all too surprising that nonprofits have their own unique set of recommended evaluation metrics.

When your organization self-evaluates, you position yourself to perform better next year and the year after that and the year after that. It’s an ongoing process that should begin as soon as possible.

Luckily, there are plenty of fundraising metrics to choose from, such as these.

You have to walk before you run though, so we recommend your organization begins its analyses with a smaller pool of metrics.

Start tracking these three metrics today and see your fundraising steadily improve.

1. Percentage of Gifts Made Online

Online giving is one of the shiny, new toys of the fundraising community. Given the growing popularity of making donations on the internet, it is crucial that your nonprofit evaluates its performance in that regard.

Considering the complexity and diversity of factors that affect online giving, there is quite a large selection of online-related fundraising metrics to track.

However, the first diagnostic step is to calculate the percentage of your gifts that are made online. You should know that detail before investigating anything more. The best way to assess progress is to see if the gift percentage increases.  

Simply put, you are going to see how many of your gifts are acquired online as compared to other giving channels. If you can increase that number, you’ll reduce the price of investment, as online fundraising is one of the most cost-effective means of fundraising.

Once you have that number down, you can broaden the scope of your analysis while you investigate ways to improve. For example, think through the various avenues of online giving.

What have you done to optimize for mobile marketing? Donors’ phones are essentially handheld computers.

What about your social media presence? Are you tweeting and posting relevant content to attract online donors.

Take each betterment measure one step at a time, ensuring that each move you make has a positive impact.

2. Rate of Retained Donors

This metric will tell you how many donors are sticking around after their initial gift. It is far easier (and less expensive!) to solicit a second or third gift from an existing donor than it is to ask for a first from a new prospect. Donor acquisition needs to be a concern, but that does not mean your nonprofit should forgo its donor retention efforts.

If your donor retention rate is not where you’d like it to be, take steps to improve your stewardship such as:

  • Thanking donors immediately after a gift is made.

  • Going mobile.

  • Making personal, authentic appeals.

For a more in-depth discussion of donor retention, IMPACTism has an excellent list of tips on the matter.

3. Return on Investment (ROI)

We have saved the most comprehensive metric for last. Fundraising return on investment analyzes everything your organization puts into something and sees how that dollar amount compares to what you get out of it.

For example, you could analyze return on investment for one of your annual events, like a gala or a golf tournament.

Conversely, some organizations prefer to calculate cost per dollar raised, or CPDR. Cost per dollar raised is the inverse of return on investment. For CPDR, you divide the cost by the revenue. For ROI, you divide revenue by cost. You can track both, but most organizations choose one or the other.

With an activity like fundraising, where every dollar is of the utmost importance, getting a big-picture sense of what your investment is accomplishing should be a top priority.


As you can see, each of these three choices offers your organization a different insight.

The first, percentage of online gifts, helps your nonprofit improve its performance in an evolving area of the fundraising world.

The second, rate of retained donors, assists with the donor stewardship phase of your donor relationships.

And the final metric, return on investment, gives you a cut-and-dry look at how well your financial input is doing.

With each metric comes another whole list of performance indicators designed to evaluate the field of fundraising you are working on improving. You’ll never be wanting for metrics, so make sure that you are choosing metrics according to what your nonprofit’s specific needs are.


Free Mobile Marketing Success Kit

Get Your Copy Today

New Call-to-action

Dan Quirk

Dan Quirk is the Marketing Manager at DonorPro, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Dan's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.
Dan manages the fast-growing DonorPro blog, Fundraising Pulse, and his writing has also been featured in ThirdSectorToday.com, SBNation.com, Nonprofitalent.com, VerticalResponse.com and Inbound.org.
Follow his tweets @DonorPro.

Topics: Non-Profit

Talk to a Trumpia Expert Today!