If you run a nonprofit or are working at one as a Program Director or Fundraising Manager, no doubt you have a list of key indicators for measuring success - donor growth, average gift size, donor ROI and so on.
These, and many other metrics, are important to communicate that you have your finger on the pulse with fundraising management. But what about the metrics your donors use to assess the impact your organisation is having? The touch points that will provide the confidence needed to continue pledging funds.
All too often we do a great job of understanding the donor journey to the point where they make that first pledge but then miss out on meeting their needs beyond that point which often means losing them as a donor.
Navigating the information maze
Having run a number of fundraising campaigns myself, I’ve often been tasked with the mission of updating donors on how their funds were spent. Even on small projects there can be a big administration overhead, particularly if the project that’s being funded is rolled out over a period of months or even years.
A lot of the nonprofits I speak to have a good idea of how they are performing and the funds that are needed to sustain their projects, but when it comes to presenting that information to the outside world it’s often not so simple - data is collected via email, Google docs, via social media and many other sources.
Amalgamating the data is time consuming and inefficient and by the time the process is complete you are looking at a historical report rather than a real time snapshot of what’s happening.
This is perhaps why many nonprofits only update their donors with monthly and quarterly reports rather than creating a nonprofit KPI dashboard that can be viewed anytime.
It’s all about donor retention
I was recently speaking with Jason Lewis of Responsive Fundraising, an organization that helps nonprofit leaders discover a holistic, meaningful and sustainable approach to advancing their mission.
We were discussing how many fundraisers do a great job of securing that first major gift but then struggle to retain the same donor and transform them into a regular giver.
Though a charity can survive by consistently winning new one time donors, the acquisition cost is far higher and will ultimately show up in the increasing operational costs of running the organization - another thing that often deters donors.
Repeat donors are always better. They allow you to focus less time on finding money and more time on the work at hand, and so a fundraising strategy needs to adopt nurturing tactics beyond the initial give:
✅ Does my donor feel connected to the cause?
✅ Is there a level of confidence in the relationship?
✅ Are they already planning their next donation?
Building a case for transparency
Donors have always pressed for greater transparency and the growth of organisations like Charity Navigator and Guide Star are testament to that, allowing people to assess where they put their money based on accountability of the nonprofit.
We may think of transparency as just being about financial disclosure, and although this is important, true transparency involves a whole lot more. Being transparent means having the ability to distribute critical data about all aspects of a nonprofits activities and the ongoing impact being maintained.
And then there are millennials, the largest and most generous population group in the US expect transparency, sophisticated storytelling and technical savvy from their charitable organisations.
The role of technology
According to NetChange’s long-running survey of technology use by nonprofits, only 11% view their organisations’ approaches to digital as highly effective. As a result, “nonprofits are leaving a significant impact on the table,” noted Jason Mogus and Austen Levihn-Coon in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Mogus and Austen Levihn-Coon go on to highlight a number of lessons from nonprofits that do get it right. They say that to effectively adopt technology nonprofits need digital expertise at the senior management level, digital leaders need to be engaged in decision making and digital expertise must be distributed through the organization, not siloed with the IT department, because digital touches everything.
The nonprofit sector may have been slow to the race with the adoption of technology but that has shifted in recent times and today many smart charities are on a level with the business sector. All have donor management platforms whether Blackbaud or one of the more recent providers, and tools for digital marketing and social media management are now commonplace.
So understandably there are now a host of nonprofit dashboard providers to help nonprofits get a handle on large amounts of data. Dashboards are a great way to communicate with the board and they can also be shared with donors and grant makers to help promote the scope of programs, finances used, and the impact created.
Data driven storytelling
On the topic of dashboards, if you are collecting good data and using it to report to the board or the donor community then building one is a great way to do that.
ACTAsia are a UK based nonprofit organization who, through education, promote compassion for animals, kindness towards people and respect for the environment in China and throughout Asia. They came to us in 2019 with a problem - ACTAsia volunteers are making a huge impact with the work they do in China but donors get very little visibility into how that’s actually happening.Over the course of a number of months we set out to create better connections between ACTAsia with their volunteers and by gathering mission critical data, developing a realtime dashboard would tell a story for the donors about the impact being created with the funds they are giving.
ACTAsia’s dashboard tells a funder, in real time, how their money is being used. It shows both long term and short terms impact data and the images help to develop a closer connection between the donor and the volunteer who’s on the ground doing the work.
It helps to strengthen the relationship that ACTAsia has with its support network and to develop long lasting relationships that result in regular giving - ensuring ACTAsia can continue to create impact.
You can view ACTAsia's dashboard at this link: ACTAsia project dashboard
Task is a great way to connect teams with your social missions and by doing so, you can access mission critical data that will help you run the organisation.
If you'd like a dashboard to help tell your data driven story, book a free consultation by clicking the button below.
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