The Importance of Measuring Performance Across All Efforts

How do you know if your NPO is a success? Start by asking yourself the following important questions:

  • Do you know which strategies are working and which ones are not?
  • Are you measuring, tracking, and gaining insights to improve our processes for the next effort?
  • Do you know the true return on investment (ROI) for our fundraising efforts?

The answer to these questions is found in the nonprofit key performance indicators, or KPIs. To be sure, there are innumerable metrics for NPOs to track, but Sharity’s fundraising experts recommend focusing on 26 KPIs. These metrics are considered crucial to measuring how your NPO is operating overall and whether it is necessary to make improvements in your strategies, programs, or campaigns. A full list of these 26 KPIs is at the end of this article.

So, where do we start, you ask? At the beginning, of course. It is mission critical for NPOs to evaluate and track those KPIs most valuable to their organization and most applicable to their efforts. Otherwise, the evaluation will be lost in the minutiae of data.

To begin, you must have a clear understanding of what your efforts are, identifying all of the initiatives you implement throughout the year. This encompasses all fundraising events, capital campaigns, grant applications, end-of-year campaigns, seasonal campaigns, and webinars/conferences. It also includes continuous undertakings, such as an organization’s website, social media marketing, and paid media efforts.

Once you know the what, then you can identify the key data points you want to track. The 26 essential KPIs fall under five subheadings:

  • General nonprofit fundraising metrics
  • Donor relationship metrics
  • Giving level metrics
  • Engagement metrics
  • Online performance metrics

This means NPOs can evaluate themselves based on:

  • How much money they make
  • How many donors they have or have added
  • How much and for how long donors will give
  • How many donor touchpoints and how much donor participation occurred
  • How many clicks they get online

Following are some general metrics to consider for any effort when looking at its overall costs. What internal and external resources were used? What was the organization’s time investment? What was the budget vs. the hard costs? You could also track audience reach. How many mailers were sent out? How many phone calls were made? How many donors were engaged? Also, how many new contacts were collected? Were you able to convert any of those contacts to dollars? If so, how much was collected, and how much money per donation?

Keep in mind these data points will be different for each effort you want to evaluate, so you must be strategic in how you employ them. For example, way too often fundraising events are money losers rather than money makers. As such, you must decide what the goals of the event are above and beyond raising money, and then, you have to decide what your organization should spend on the event.

For example, if your past events have fallen short of your expected goals, rather than using revenue as a success metric, consider your events as a way to connect with current donors, maintain engagement and relationships, and serve as a pipeline for generating new donors. All of these will have a different lifetime value. Remember, events are strategic and need to be considered just the first step in generating new relationships to be nurtured. They also must be tracked, either by total cost of the event or the total funds raised.

Then, there is the end-of-year campaign. NPOs’s invest months into the planning, strategy, and launch of these campaigns, which means it is critical to measure, track, and learn from them. NPOs frequently ask themselve the following questions when measuring the performance of their end-of-year campaigns:

  • How can we do better?
  • What is our story?
  • Are we sharing the right information with our audience to prove we are making a difference and impacting our community in a positive way?
  • Do we have growth data to show improvements for our clients and community year over year?
  • What are our outcomes vs. outputs?
  • What channels are we using to communicate with our audiences? Email? Personal phone calls?
  • Did we tailor the messages, or did everyone get the same message?
  • Did our communication tell our audiences what we wanted from them?
  • Did these communications result in a donation? What was the conversion rate?
  • Was our timing off?

In the end, KPIs provide NPOs with real, empirical data about the footprint they are leaving in the world. The result turns the hard work of planning events, campaigns, and strategic programming into real economic value for nonprofit organizations. The more effectively and efficiently an NPO uses its resources in any of these types of campaigns, the higher its return on investment and the more work can be done on behalf of its cause and constituency.

26 Nonprofit Key Performance Indicators:

  1. Cost Per Dollar Raised (CPDR)
  2. Fundraising Return on Investment (ROI)
  3. Conversion Rate
  4. Gifts Secured
  5. Matching Gift Rate
  6. Pledge Fulfillment Percentage
  7. Recurring Gift Percentage
  8. Board Member Participation Rate
  9. Donor Retention Rate
  10. Lapsed Donors
  11. Donor Growth Rate
  12. Donor Lifetime Value
  13. Number of Donors by Type
  14. Donor Acquisition Costs
  15. Average Gift Size
  16. Average Giving Capacity
  17. Average Gift Size Growth
  18. Frequency of Contact with Donors
  19. Fundraising Participation Rate
  20. Asks Made
  21. Online Gift Performance
  22. Email Open Rate
  23. Email Click-Through Rate
  24. Email Opt-Out Rate
  25. Website Page Views
  26. Landing Page Conversion Rate