3 Nonprofit Success Metrics That Your Organization Needs to be Tracking

Dan QuirkBy guest author Dan Quirk. Dan is the Marketing Manager at DonorPro, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Dan’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices. Dan received his degree in Business Management from Grove City College and earned a Marketing Strategy Certification from Cornell University. In addition, he is a Certified Inbound Marketer, Certified Hubspot Marketer, and a Certified Customer Advocacy Marketer.

3 Nonprofit Success Metrics That Your Organization Needs to be Tracking

When nonprofits toss around the term success metrics, they are usually talking about the big ones like fundraising return on investment and donor retention rate. Both of those success metrics, also known as key performance indicators, are incredibly important and relevant, but they are not the only game in town.

Metrics are beacons that highlight where your organization needs to be spending its time.

For instance, consider a scenario in which your performance statistics show you that online giving is an organizational weakness. That information tells you that you need to explore ways of improving your website and the online donation process. Don’t limit the scope of evaluation and miss valuable data.

Said simply, there are numerous performance indicators that nonprofits need to be tracking, yet many are not doing so.

Let’s fix that problem! Here are three success metrics, one common and two less so, that can change the way your organization strategizes for the future.

#1: Percentage of Fulfilled Pledges

At the end of the day, a pledge is not a donation. A pledge is a promise. You can’t truly count on a pledge until it has materialized and been gifted to your organization. What’s a nonprofit to do?

Pledges are commonplace, especially with certain fundraising events, like road races and the several types of “a-thons.”

To best account for the uncertainty of pledges, your nonprofit can monitor how many of its pledges are actually fulfilled.

The percentage will not be a hard and fast rule. It can’t be. However, that percentage will teach your organization what to expect based on the giving histories of your pledge-making donors.

This metric is a pattern indicator. Having a ballpark idea of how many of your pledges will convert into donations can help your nonprofit plan better and adjust as is necessary.

#2: Percentage of Recurring Gifts

Percentage of recurring gifts is a performance indicator that mirrors donor retention rate in many ways, but offers its own standalone value, as well.

You can further delve into the percentage and group donors according to how many gifts they have given. A donor who has given four times a year, over five years will need a different stewardship strategy than a donor who has given to your organization twice this year.

The focus for the latter donor should be continued relationship building. The donor is far newer to your organization and is a prime candidate for long-term support.

The donor who has given 20 gifts since supporting your cause is in a position to be approached about a donation increase. This supporter is clearly invested in your organization and your mission, and would likely be open to hearing an ask from a member of your fundraising staff.

Your ask doesn’t even have to be about making a gift increase. There are plenty of creative fundraising avenues opened from learning more about your recurring donors.

For example:

There are many avenues to explore with your recurring donors, and it all starts with evaluating the standing and relative success of your recurring gift efforts.

Both donors present your organization with fundraising opportunities, but you might not have noticed them without an analysis of your recurring gift percentage.

#3: Growth in Number of Donors

This third metric is the “common” one mentioned above. All nonprofits, without question, should be tracking changes in their donor numbers. If your donor population is growing, that is great! If not, it is time to re-evaluate your practices and performance.

Performance indicators tell you that something might be wrong, but it is up to your team to deduce what that “wrong thing” is.

Acquisition and retention both factor into the problem of a shrinking or flat lining donor base, and further investigation should reveal where your organization’s particular strengths and weaknesses are.

A check of your donor retention rate will tell you if your problem is in retention, acquisition, or somewhere in between. Knowing that information completely changes how you can approach fixing the problem.

If your loss in number of donors is based on attrition, doubling down on acquisition efforts might be a short-term fix, but the issue will reappear and persist without dedicated attention to retention.

As you can see from all three metrics, tracking is about taking the information that you already have sitting in your database, like a CRM, and using it to your advantage. Don’t let good data go to waste!