In yesterday's webinar on strategic planning we discussed the importance of having data drive your strategy and help you set your goals. This isn't a new philosophy for me, in fact, in a blog post last year I even gave basic reports that every donor relations professional should have at their fingertips.
As I move forward guiding clients, peers and others in the industry, I still have a huge pause when I ask pointed data driven questions and receive blank stares. So here I am, standing before you, asking (read challenging) you to become an expert where you are. For many of you telling me your enrollment or mission is easy, but when we dig deeper the answers come less quickly. What was the total amount of cash your organization raised last year? Total commitments? What is your annual giving percentage? What percentage of your gifts come in through planned giving? What percentage of your totals do your top 25 donors make up? This is the kind of data that drives goals and real strategy. Often I hear from my donor relations colleagues that their seat at the table is a folding one, and I must challenge that and say, how well do you know your numbers? Fundraisers and leadership know their numbers, why don't we? If I asked you to quantify the impact of your work in relation to your budget or salary, could you? We MUST. It's no longer good enough to know how many letters or reports we send. We need to know the impact of those reports and letters in dollars and sense.
Here's a concrete example. Last night was our annual scholarship reception. We had a great turnout this year, it has increased every year for the past 4 years. But it's not enough to have more people. I know it was a success because the amount of money and importance of donors in the room increases every year. I can tell you how many trustees were there and the total of their lifetime giving. Having bodies in the room isn't enough. Are we strategic? This year we had the event following a trustee meeting to ensure that those folks were in the room.
Can you say the same about your efforts? I learned in the soon to be released Pulse of donor relations survey that not enough of us have solid metrics programs. Let me tell you, the fundraising folks do. In fact, less than half of us have strategic or comprehensive plans... Why not?
How can others take us seriously if we don't live, eat and breathe our craft? Enough of the lecture. Here's a link to a free metrics webinar to get you thinking. And if you need help, I'm always here to guide and talk through things, reach out anytime!