Metrics are hard! However, they can be your best friend too. They can open doors, help advocate for much needed resources, and help you prioritize heavy workloads and endless initiatives. They can do the hard work for you. I am very passionate about metrics (I know, I can be total nerd) and was recently having a conversation with some peers about what and how to track donor relations activity in order to quantify value, progress, and ROI. We are certainly still a work in progress here at UF, but there are a few key components anyone can adopt when building a solid system of metrics.
1. Fundraising Connection: You must be able to correlate your donor relations work to the success of your fundraising efforts (after all, that’s why we are here!). I have been able to ingrain with my team that everything we do serves a fundraising purpose. Our work needs to affect one of these three key metrics:
- Donor retention rates
- Pledge fulfillment rates
- Pipeline management
If a project doesn’t affect one or more of these, then we have to ask the question “do we need to be doing it?”. For example, for our annual student thank you event, Grateful Gator Day, we report out standard numbers such as how many notes, how many participants, etc. This past year we also created a dashboard with our data team to track 30/60/90 day giving for all donors who receive a GGD touch. It’s not a direct relationship, we know that, and it’s not a perfect science, but it helps us to say that for the “donors who received a GGD touch in 2018 gave a total of $12M in the 3 months following”. This kind of data helps us make the argument with Development that the work we produce affects their donors and gets them used to hearing us talk in fundraising terms as well.
2. Division by Audience: When it comes to the deciding what to track, it’s best to address your work from a variety of perspectives:
- Team success (quality, quantity, efficiency, total hours, collaboration)
- Donor’s success (completed surveys, satisfaction rate reported, open rates, request for copies)
- Organization’s metrics (the three metrics listed above plus 30/60/90 giving data)
It’s key to always be ready to evaluate your activity both in terms of organizational (internal) and donor (external) success. They are your most important constituencies!
3. Strategy Driven by Metrics: You must be able to show that your strategy is driven by your metrics and that it takes into consideration the fundraising needs of your organization. For example, this year we sent Grateful Gator Day notes to our 2, 3, and 4-year consecutive donors because we know UF’s greatest retention fall-off rate happens between 3 and 4 years. So being able to clearly articulate that strategy and purpose behind the event to our Development partners (along with the 30/60/90 giving data) made all the difference in their willingness to collaborate.
This just scratches the surface – but it’s a start! You may not be able to implement all of this, but choose one component and start there. Next year, add another! As you look forward to what your FY19 has in store, take the time to tackle the metrics challenge in some capacity. Take metrics, your best friend, by the hand and say “we can do this!”.
This post was written by DRG Group member, Sarah Sims. Sarah is a consultant, speaker, and the Executive Director of Donor Relations at the University of Florida.