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Nonprofit Metrics for ROI: What to Track

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Published December 26, 2022 Reading Time: 9 minutes

Nonprofit marketing is essential for spreading the word about fundraising initiatives, engagement opportunities, and even mission-related programming. Yet you don’t want to spend your team’s limited time and resources establishing efforts that are not seeing a return. While metrics like click-through rate, social shares, and event attendance can provide insights into your campaigns, they don’t tell you how your marketing spend directly impacts your organization’s sustainability. However, focusing on the right data points allows your nonprofit organization to better understand the results of your investments and the subsequent impact on your mission. We’ve compiled a list of key performance metrics that go beyond engagement and focus on return:

For nonprofit sustainability, data is power. In fact, 65% of nonprofit content marketers say data capture is incredibly important for decision-making. This number will only grow as the nonprofit sector becomes even more data-driven.

Keep a close eye on the following metrics to grow your donations, conversions, corporate giving, and overall supporter impact. Let’s dive in.

1. Landing Page Conversion Rate

How to calculate: (Number of donors converted from a particular campaign landing page / total amount of landing page traffic) × 100 = landing page conversion rate

Whether you solicit gifts from first-time contributors, repeat donors, dedicated volunteers, or newsletter subscribers, the number of individuals who complete donations should be measured as a percentage of total visitors. In doing so, you can better communicate your overall results in terms of campaign landing page conversions.

For example, imagine you launched an initiative that brought 100 visitors to your campaign landing page. From there, 25 of those people converted on the donation form, becoming donors. Your overall conversion rate would be 25%.

Why it matters: After you have that percentage, you can measure it against different campaigns and forms to compare results. Or, use that number to set future goals—for example, you might seek to improve your campaign conversion next month by 5%. To improve your conversion rate, you might test the language, add compelling quotes, or rework your call-to-action. You can also run split (or A/B) tests, driving half of your traffic to one version of the page and the other half to a slightly tweaked form alternative.

2. Marketing Channel Conversion Rate

How to calculate: (Number of donors converted from a particular marketing channel / total amount of traffic brought in through the channel) × 100 = marketing channel conversion rate

Your organization likely leverages a number of media avenues through which you share your marketing efforts. However, not all channels are created equally, nor will they produce the same results for your team. This is why it’s so important to calculate conversion rates across channels such as social media platforms, organic search, direct and referral traffic, and paid campaigns.

For example, you may discover that 50 of your 500 social media visitors convert into donors or subscribers. Therefore, your social media channel conversion rate would be 10%. At the same time, let’s say you ran an email marketing campaign that brought in 1000 visitors, 200 of which converted to donors⁠—equalling a 20% conversion rate.

Why it matters: Real-time awareness of these conversion rates by channel allows you to make smarter decisions about where to invest marketing dollars. Close observations can guide your strategy moving forward, helping determine which initiatives and channels to focus your efforts on for the greatest return.

If you discover that a particular marketing avenue converts visitors at a greater rate, you may decide to invest additional time and dollars into that channel in particular. On the other hand, if you find an area with lackluster results, you might want to optimize your efforts for that channel before investing further resources.

3. Donor Acquisition Cost

How to calculate: Total marketing campaign spend / number of donors acquired = donor acquisition cost

Do you know how much you spend to acquire a new donor? Understanding this metric helps to measure the profitability of your marketing campaigns and make informed decisions with your budget.

To begin, calculate the sum of total costs associated with a specific fundraising campaign⁠—including fees, marketing spend, and team member time involved. Then, divide that amount by the number of conversions from the campaign, and that’s the average cost to acquire a single donor.

For example, consider a fundraising campaign that brings in 100 new donors and costs your team $500 to plan and launch. When you divide the total marketing campaign spend by the number of donors gained through your efforts, you see that your donor acquisition cost is equal to $5 per person. An optimal donor acquisition cost is lower than the average donation amount, indicating an increase in revenue and a profitable campaign.

Why it matters: Once you’ve calculated donor acquisition costs for a particular campaign, you can replicate campaigns that have a low spend and high return. Alternatively, you might strategize ways to minimize spending on more costly campaigns. Either way, strategic efforts allow you to produce a higher return on investment for your marketing dollars.

4. Donor Reconversion Rate

How to calculate: (Number of reconverted donors / total amount of lapsed donors who received the donation appeal) × 100 = donor reconversion rate

For the health of your organization, it’s imperative to not only acquire new donors but to retain them as well. That’s why many nonprofits are hosting reconversion campaigns in order to reengage with their supporters and steward them into repeat contributors over time. A reconversion campaign essentially targets supporters who had historically been regular or repeat donors but have since lapsed.

Keep in mind the way you define “reconverted” and “lapsed” donors can vary from one organization to the next. For example, you might solely target individuals who had previously signed up for a recurring donation program but have since canceled it. Or you may choose to include repeat supporters who had given a number of times⁠—yet were not recurring givers⁠—and had recently stopped contributing as well.

Regardless, determining your donor reconversion rate allows you to better understand your engagement level with this particular donor segment.

To calculate the marketing metric, first establish the number of existing donors that contributed to your specific reconversion campaign. Then, divide that figure by the total number of donors who were targeted with your efforts.

For example, imagine you’ve sent a fundraising appeal to 100 lapsed donors (they’ve contributed to your cause before but not within a specific timeframe). 15 of these individuals decided to make an additional donation, resulting in a donor reconversion rate of 15%.

Why it matters: The lifetime value of an average recurring donor is much greater than a one-time donor. Not to mention, the cost to reconvert an existing contact is often much lower than the cost to acquire a new donor. And it can be done in multiple ways⁠—including, but not limited to, an email nurture series, updated marketing materials, targeted paid advertisements, and more. Set up a custom landing page for each reconversion campaign with the language targeted to these donors.

5. Estimated Annual Online Revenue

How to calculate: Average online gift frequency × total number of online donors × average donation amount = Estimated annual online revenue

In addition to reviewing your past quarters, you can also use your previously collected marketing data to make a projection for your upcoming year of fundraising.

To do so, you’ll first need to determine your online gift frequency, or the average number of online donations a donor makes in a twelve-month period. Then, multiply this figure by your total number of online donors, as well as the average online donation amount. Your answer is an estimation of your upcoming online revenue for the next year!

For example, let’s say your average donor makes three donations a year with a mean gift amount of $100. You have 1,000 online donors in your network. In the next year, you can estimate that you’ll bring in a total of $300,000 in fundraising revenue.

Why it matters: By looking ahead and estimating online revenue, you can make informed decisions about your organization’s overall budget and strategy. Or, if the expected revenue is lower than you’d like, you can work toward specific goals to increase your gift frequency, number of donors, and/or average donation size.

6. Matching Gift Revenue Received

How to calculate: Sum of all matching gift donations your organization receives

Tons of donors are eligible for corporate matching gift programs through their employers. When your supporters donate to your cause and complete a brief submission process to request the matching gift on your behalf, they can essentially double the impact of their contributions to your cause.

To determine the total amount of revenue collected through these programs, make a note of each donation that comes through as a corporate matching gift. For easier calculations, you can even encourage donors to update your organization on the status of their matches online (e.g., matching gift request submitted, match approved, funding paid out, etc.). At the end of a particular time period (likely a year), find the sum of each matching donation contributed to your cause.

From there, consider looking at matching gift revenue year over year to demonstrate and understand the growing impact matching gifts can have on your organization.

To calculate this figure, determine the amount of matching gift revenue collected in one year and subtract the total amount of match revenue from the previous. Then, divide the result by the total match revenue from the previous year and multiply the figure by 100 for your percentage growth.

Why it matters: Tracking matching gift metrics enables your organization to calculate the amount of funding made available to your cause through corporate donation-matching initiatives. Not to mention, company matches are essentially “buy one, get one free” donations that directly increase the ROI of your team’s fundraising efforts.

Keep in mind that matching gift research reports over $4 to $7 billion in matching gift revenue being left on the table each year. Prioritizing this data point is the key to maximizing your nonprofit’s match potential. For example, if you see that the amount of matching gift revenue your organization receives is lower than the total amount you qualify for through your donors’ employer giving programs, you may decide to expand your matching gift marketing efforts to promote the opportunity to more supporters.

7. Top Matching Gift Companies

How to calculate: Sum of matching gift donations coming from each of your donors’ employers

With strategic matching gift marketing efforts in place, your organization is likely to receive matching donations from a wide range of corporations. Knowing the top companies providing matching gifts can help you target your outreach initiatives.

With a matching gift tool like 360MatchPro (which integrates seamlessly with Classy’s fundraising platform), this metric can be automated and located with ease. 360MatchPro offers a dedicated dashboard to locate this information, providing a real-time updated list of the top 10 companies being looked up in the search tool. Otherwise, you can keep track of matching donations as they flow into your system and calculate the total amount of funding contributed by each company.

Why it matters: Top matching gift companies communicate their desire to be involved with nonprofit causes and make a difference for the organizations and missions their donors care about. That said, they can also make some of the greatest corporate sponsorship opportunities⁠—and knowing which companies to reach out to is often half the battle. Plus, knowledge of top matching gift companies can enable your team to identify match-eligible prospects and pursue them accordingly.

8. Percentage of Total Revenue from Different Donor Segments

How to calculate: (Sum of all donors’ gifts that fall within a particular category / total revenue collected) × 100 = percentage of revenue from donor segments

When you divide your donors into groups by similar characteristics, you can measure the impact each segment has on the organization’s overall sustainability.

To do so, first choose criteria for segmentation, such as first-time, high-level, and recurring donors. (Tip: With automation software, you can create smart logic so your lists will auto-populate!)

Once you have your lists created, compare the impact of various segments. For example, what percentage of your revenue comes from first-time vs. recurring donors? What donation size is most common—or uncommon—for your organization?

Why it matters: By segmenting your donor base and calculating fundraising effectiveness this way, you can make strategic decisions about where to target your resources. While you shouldn’t rely on a single segment’s generosity for your organization’s survival, calculating your revenue breakdown by group allows you to create targeted campaigns and mobilize key segments to maximize impact.

9. Volunteer and Donor Retention Rates

How to calculate: (Number of repeat donors or volunteers this year / total number of donors or volunteers the previous year) × 100 = retention rate

Your organization relies on donors and volunteers to bring your mission to life. But are the same supporters sticking with your team for the long run? Calculating retention rates for donation and volunteerism can help you find out.

By charting the percentage of donors and volunteers who stop engaging with your nonprofit, you can determine whether your audience is comprised of dedicated individuals who engage in your efforts time and time again or whether you see a lot of one-and-done supporters who never truly stay involved.

For example, imagine you have a group of 100 volunteers last year. This year, only 10 return to continue supporting your organization. That would result in a volunteer retention rate of 10%!

Why it matters: This metric empowers your team to set up periodic touchpoints to help keep your organization at the top of your supporters’ minds.

Do volunteers seem to attend a single event and never return? Do donors often make two gifts only to stop engaging with your organization afterward? With this information on hand, you can set up a triggered email cadence, increasing communication touch points and upping reminders to reengage supporters at the most critical times.

Data and Metrics as a Nonprofit Tool

Though it takes time and effort to collect these metrics—and perhaps even an investment in automation and data management tools—the ROI you expect to see is astounding. You’ll ultimately have a better way to make decisions, reduce marketing spend, and reach goals that support your organization.

Not to mention, the right information can power more effective fundraising and workplace giving opportunities that produce maximal revenue for the cause that you and your donors are working toward.

The Guide to Meaningful Nonprofit Metrics

The Guide to Meaningful Nonprofit Metrics

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