This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Data Solutions & Implementations, Marijana Radić Boone. Marijana's career has been built on helping mission-driven organizations use technology to achieve new levels of success. A former Gravyty customer, Marijana understands first-hand how artificial intelligence transforms what's possible in fundraising.
Which Fundraising Metrics Matter Most?
I had a conversation with a fundraising manager recently about goal-setting. There was no overarching campaign effort, so she struggled to pick relevant goals and wondered how to go about setting those. Dollars raised are obvious, but metrics should be about more than just ultimate outcomes - they should also provide mile markers along the journey and diagnostics to help one course correct.
So what numbers matter? I would submit the following as important mile markers along the fundraising journey, each with its own proposed diagnostic metric:
1. Identify New Prospects (Feed the Pipeline Beast)
As a foundational step of the journey, identification requires its own measure of success. Determine how many identified prospects you need in order to meet the next goal, qualification, and set a goal around it. And because this is the building block on which everything rests, elevate this goal and celebrate identified prospects as much as you would a closed gift!
2. Qualify Identified Prospects
Qualification targets are important, but just how many qualified prospects do you need? That depends on the rate at which you can convert prospects to qualified donors. At a rate of 10:1, if you need 10 new donors, you’ll need to complete 100 qualifications. Don’t forget to also celebrate qualification wins - these are now warm prospects ready to build a relationship with your organization.
3. Cultivate Relationships with Qualified Prospects
Measuring cultivation may not be as immediately obvious, as relationship-building feels a bit more “squishy” than the first two stages. However, time spent in this stage is critical and if you don’t monitor it and move prospects forward in a reasonable timeframe, you’ll likely fail to reach the goal at the next stage. Setting a goal for moving prospects forward sets you up for greater success.
4. Make Your Ask (Solicit the Gift)
In order to close gifts, you have to ask for them first. Setting a clear target for the number of asks made is a great metric because the math is easy here - the more you ask, the more you’ll close.
BONUS: If you're looking to build a structure around making asks, holding fundraising teams accountable, and having a more predictable outline, check out our 30-60-90 Day Guide here.
5. Close Gifts
Most operations have clear targets around dollars raised, but not necessarily the number of gifts closed. Measuring both will allow you to identify your strong closers as those with a higher rate of asks closed. Another good metric to monitor here is the difference between the ask amount and gift amount - strong solicitors have a small gap here because they know when to make the ask and what to ask for.
BONUS: Do you know who your closers are? Check out this webinar that I ran with our great friend and Partner, Doug Cogswell, of Pursuant Advizor to learn how to identify fundraising talents on your team and then set those people up to so their success translates into an entire lift for your organization.
5. Steward Like Crazy
Don't forget to say thank you, and make sure to measure repeat donors and upgrades in donations from those. Also, monitor time-in-stage here, too - your best donors of tomorrow are also today’s donors, so you’ll need to find the appropriate time to move them back into cultivation.
As with most things in life, simplicity is key here. And achieving simplicity in the fundraising world can be a challenge - there are market trends to contend with, short-term priorities of boards and executives, annual budgets that need funding, and long-term sustainability of the organization that all need to be balanced. These simple diagnostics can provide fundraisers, managers, and organizational leaders alike a compass and a sense of control amidst the chaos.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, connect with Gravyty today.