Online Fundraising Academy: Fundraising Evaluation and Analysis

Online Fundraising Academy: Fundraising Evaluation and Analysis

In GlobalGiving’s eighth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, Nick Hamlin, GlobalGiving’s Business Intelligence Analyst, joined us to discuss GlobalGiving’s rigorous goal-setting and ongoing monitoring of fundraising activities. Nick and his team support the organization in financial goal setting and benchmarking. Leading the charge in tracking annual progress and evaluating year-end results, Nick is responsible for compiling a weekly analysis of site activity and donations.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

Fundraising Evaluation

  • Why should data evaluation and analysis be a priority?
    • Think of data like a roadmap for your operations. When you’re going on a road trip, you will need to know:
      • Where are you currently, where are you trying to go, and how will you get there?
    • Rather than just focusing on getting funds in the door, make sure to define a concrete starting point and goal
    • Allows you to maximize your impact!
  • Data is your map! If you have this map, it makes your journey much more clear.

 Step 1: Finding your baseline

  • Right now? Strong platform of donors and organizations
  • GlobalGiving examples:
    • Right now? In the future? In your mission? In your fundraising?
    • Start with the right questions: Where are you? What’s important to your organization?
    • In the future? Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals!
    • In our mission? Information, Ideas, and Money to nonprofits
    • In our fundraising? Long-term sustainability
  • How to map questions to metrics?
    • GlobalGiving uses a Cheat Sheet to keep track of where we are currently.
      • Cost Recovery, Annual Volume, Facebook Fans/Twitter Followers, etc.
    • Relating it all back to your important questions and reminding you of what’s really important and how you’re doing in relation to these goals
  • Key Questions
    • What questions is your organization interested in, giving the work you do and the mission you have?
    • Once you’ve asked these questions, what metrics can you use to track them? How can you put them into your own cheat sheet or dashboard?
    • You don’t need to have a million different numbers, rather figure out what’s important for your organization and then make sure you have a handful of relevant, actionable numbers

Step 2: Setting data-driven goals

  • Goals are the destination for your trip, and good goals are SMART:
    • Specific: They’re focused on something concrete you can actually understand
    • Measurable: You’re using trackable metrics to know if you’ve succeeded (dollars raised, or something else easily measured/counted)
    • Actionable: There are specific steps you can take to achieve your goal
    • Relevant: They make sense for your organization’s context
    • Time-bound: They won’t last forever
  • Use your metrics to track your progress
  • Use the new information to improve your goal-setting the next time around; your data will get better if you’re using information from the previous cycle to update the next cycle
  • GlobalGiving Example: Overall Volume Goal for 2015
    • Specific: Focused on concrete dollars through the marketplace
    • Measurable: Easily tracked via accounting
    • Actionable: Driven through campaigns, website upgrades, etc.
    • Realistic: Number determined based on previous trends/other goals
    • Time-bound: Limited only to 2015
  • Key Questions:
    • What kind of goals make sense for your organization?
    • How can you make sure they’re SMART goals?

 Step 3: Learning from experimentation and iteration

  • “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” – Maya Angelou
    • Take the best information you have and do your best with it, then gather more information so you can know better and do better
  • Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.
    • Listening, Acting, Learning, then repeating these three steps allows you to build on new information as you move towards your goal.
    • Listen to what is working, act by formulating a plan, and then learn by evaluating what worked and what you can do differently next round. Integrate what works, and then repeat by looping through the cycle again!
  • GlobalGiving Example: How can we maximize recurring donations?
    • Listen – economics and psychology experts say that belonging to a group can be a strong motivator for people
    • Act – on the checkout page, we told donors we’d match their first recurring donation if a certain percentage of people upgraded their contribution. We gathered data about how many people agreed.
    • Learn – analyzed whether the offer made a difference in increasing recurring donations.
    • Repeat – tested this same idea with different percentages. Eventually found that 75% worked the best.
    • Result – doubled recurring donations!
  • Key Questions:
    • What information would you gather to start experimenting?
    • What plan would you carry out? What data would you gather to support the plan?
    • Based on the data, how would you change your plan for next time?

Designing a Strategic Plan for Bonus Day: 

  • Step 1: What’s important? How can we track it?
    • Total fundraising: Money gained from new donors, Dollars raised, Matching money earned.
    • Donor engagement: Number of unique donors, Number of project page views, Number of emails opened, Number of Facebook likes/views
    • Take time to think about what’s important for this Bonus Day and for the long-run. What other aspects are important besides just dollars raised?
  • Step 2: What SMART goals should we set?
    • What’s a realistic goal for dollars raised?
    • How many donations have we received previously in similar campaigns? How large were they on average?
    • Who are our potential donors? How will we reach out to them?
    • How many will likely donate given our outreach strategy?
    • Using our estimated average donation size and estimated number of donors, what’s our estimate of how much we’ll raise on Bonus Day?
  • Step 3: What tests will we try to reach our goal?
    • Subgoal – number of donations from Facebook, based on past activity
    • Use Emily’s tips to reach out to Facebook donor networks
      • Previous campaign Facebook engagement: 10 donors, $165 total
      • Goals for this campaign: 30 donors, $25 avg., $750 total
    • How much activity were we able to generate? Did we hit our engagement and donation goals? What other ideas could we try in our next iteration?
    • Learnings from this experiment
    • Over-estimated average Facebook donation size
    • Under-estimated size of Facebook donor network
      • Need to update our goals for next time based on this new data
      • Where are our blind spots? Could we better map our network? Who are our posts reaching?
    • Possible questions for next iteration:
      • Can we increase the average size of donation from our Facebook network without decreasing engagement?
      • Can we replicate this success on other social media platforms?
      • How difficult was it to implement this campaign? Was it worth the effort? (new metric/goal idea: $ raised per staff hour!)

Key Takeaways

  • Find your baseline!
  • Once you’ve found where you are, set your SMART goals!
  • Then go through the iterative learning approach: Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.
  • Never travel without your “data map”!

Want more Data?

  • Many more options depending on your interests:
    • Storage: Google Analytics, Excel, Facebook Insights, MailChimp, Salesforce
    • Analysis: All of the above, R, BigML, Infogram, Tableau Public, etc.
  • Ways to learn more:

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.

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