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Donor Analytics: Your Nonprofit’s Secret Weapon

If your nonprofit isn't leveraging donor analytics, you're missing out on a secret weapon for success! This article lists six critical metrics to track.

Donor Analytics: Your Nonprofit’s Secret Weapon

Secret? Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. How about underappreciated or underutilized? How about insanely powerful and profitable? How about all of the above? Let’s make sure you’re getting the most you can out of the data you’re collecting!

Assuming you’re collecting it. Research shows 53% of nonprofits do, meaning 47% don’t. And if you are part of the 53% collecting it, most likely through a nonprofit CRM with advanced reporting and analytics, are you tracking the right metrics?

Donor analytics can help you engage your donors, increase your fundraising results, and plan campaigns that will get you closer to your mission. But if you’re not tracking the right numbers or not tracking donor data at all (Gasp! Call us!), you’re missing a monumental opportunity for growth.

CharityEngine provides donor management and fundraising software to nonprofits, and we’ve been successfully helping our clients (large, medium,  and small) find success for decades. One of our biggest strengths is measuring and reporting on donor analytics. We’ve put a fair number of brain hours behind developing the smartest technology to measure the right things to help our clients succeed.

5 Often-Overlooked Metrics Nonprofits Should Track

Let’s assume you have a CRM with reporting and analytics, and let’s further assume that custom reporting is built in. (If not...once again, call us!) The question is, then, which reports should you run to maximize your actionable insights? Here are five we want you to check out.

1. Number of Gifts per Donor

While this may seem obvious, let’s look a little closer. If I want to shock you, I’d say that one gift doesn’t quite make someone a donor. Technically, yes, but when you’re looking at growth, the second and third and fourth gifts (no matter how small) are what matter.

Your long-term success is dependent on donors who are sustainers. Getting that one-time donor to sustainer status should be a significant goal. You're doing well if you can get that number anywhere close to 50%.

Tracking this number also illuminates a sustainer or monthly donor who has suddenly stopped engaging. This is a flag to place a personal call; perhaps the donor is sick or annoyed with something about your nonprofit. A simple, heartfelt phone call is appropriate in either case and can even be reparative.  

2. Donor Lifetime Gifts

Otherwise sometimes known as Donor Lifetime Value, this number is important to determine the health of your nonprofit in several ways. 

Remember, gifts can be monetary, but there are in-kind gifts, gifts of volunteer time, or gifts of service. These count when you’re calculating lifetime value.

You get an immediate to-do list when you sort your donors by lifetime value. Your “most valuable” donors should get a phone call or a premium table at an event or a lunch invitation. This is when someone who has given $50 a month for 20 years will be thanked before a one-time, $10,000 donor. It levels the playing field.

Donors who are sporadic givers can be enrolled in an email nurture campaign. Those who have only given once can get outreach specific to them.

Once you take away the flashiness of big nonprofit donations, you’ll be surprised to see what donor insights bubble up. Tracking this metric will make it easier create and nurture personal relationships with donors.

3. Density of Gifts by Geographical Location

How the heck can a city or zip code tell you anything useful about your fundraising efforts? Well, if you’re a statewide nonprofit, is there a county or a region where you find most of your donors? If so, figure out what’s working there and how to translate it to target other counties.

If there’s an area with a few donors, but you’d like more, maybe you should consider a P2P campaign to spread the word about your mission.

Event planning can also be informed by where your major donors are. You don’t want them to have to travel far (with such heavy wallets!). You can also market in-person events, even small meet-and-greet coffees, with a targeted population. 

Knowing where your donors are can show you where to go and where to double down your efforts. It can boost participation in events and campaigns. It’s a valuable paradigm shift!

4. Average Gift

Here’s a metric that will clearly show you fundraising growth. Take your income (weekly, monthly, annually) and divide it by the number of donors to calculate the average gift. Then plot your average gift over time.

  • If it’s going up, congratulations! Your engagement and outreach are working.
  • If it’s remained stagnant for a while, it’s time to shake things up. Maybe it’s an event, an email campaign with something motivating, like a challenge, or it’s a peer-to-peer campaign.
  • If it’s going down….yikes. You will probably want to start by reaching out to your major donors with personal appeals and work your way down the list. Perhaps your largest donors, or your most valuable sustainers, are invited to a “Dinner with the Director” so you can make an in-person plea. 

Regardless of what you find, this isn’t a metric that serves you to ignore. Even when the numbers give you heartburn, stare them down and improve upon them if you need to…but don’t sweep them under the rug, hoping they don’t matter.

5. Retention/Collection Rate

Okay, we’re cheating a little because these are two different metrics. But they go hand in hand, particularly when measuring the strength of your monthly giving programs!

Your retention rate measures how many donors this month (week/year) also gave in the same period previously. If you had 100 donors last February and 80 of those same donors gave again this February, your retention rate is 80%. While that’s pretty good, you don’t want to lose 20% of your donors, so we aim for much higher retention rates with our clients.

For accuracy, you will want to measure retention at the same time every year. Once you identify lapsed donors, you can classify them as LYBUNT (gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year) or SYBUNT (Some Year But Unfortunately Not This Year) to develop a personalized plan to win them back.

Your collection rate depends on how much money was pledged to your nonprofit versus how much you collected. Your collection rates can be greatly improved with good software. Our system rebills and automatically updates credit card information to minimize lost funds, so our collection rates are close to 99%. If you're collection rates aren't high, you're missing out on funds intended for your nonprofit

The Power of Donor Analytics

So why would we call donor analytics your secret weapon? Because knowing giving patterns, demographics, and trends can help you nurture the right relationships in the right way and plan future engagement efforts.

Better relationships, targeted campaigns, and personalized outreach….that’s secret-weapon-status-worthy, isn’t it? After all, raising more money and increasing the number and value of your donors is the holy grail for any nonprofit.

The next step is to make sure you can measure these analytics in your CRM. They aren’t unusual or unique reports, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting the data, but make sure they’re added to a dashboard so you can keep a close eye on them over time. You'll have the ability to see patterns, highs and lows, and act much faster than you would otherwise.