In my previous post Counting on Success? Focus on Event Fundraising Analytics, we looked at how peer-to-peer event metrics let us know if our event planning and execution efforts are paying off in fundraising results. Benchmarks let us know how we perform compared to our event fundraising peers.

Metrics and benchmarks can be our guides to whether your efforts at creating a great experience for participants are paying off. They can also reveal “opportunities” for growth and remedial action to solidify the performance of an event.

Obvious event metrics to follow are the basics, like these:

  • Total amount raised
  • Profit/loss
  • Number of participants

But what about more subtle metrics that can really make a difference? Over the dozen or so years we have been doing event fundraising online, results analysis has revealed statistics that correlate to fundraising success. Many of these metrics describe participant behavior and organization.

Some “behavior-based” metrics – and the strategies that they suggest – include the following:

Strategy Metric Reasoning
Retain as many people as you can Retention rate (of participants, team captains, team members) Returning fundraisers generally raise more money, especially team captains.
Recruiting new participants every year can take more effort than retaining existing supporters.
Encourage participants to fundraise Percent of participants who fundraise / percent zero dollar fundraisers Post event surveys revealed the number one reason participants didn’t fundraise in 2012 was “No one asked me to”. Changes to communication strategies and messaging can remedy this oversight.
Encourage self-donation Percent of participants who donate to themselves Foster a fundraising culture around your event, starting with event participants.
Encourage participants to personalize their fundraising page Percent of personal pages with image and/or story personalized A personal story is more likely to inspire friends and family to make a donation. The effort to personalize the page also increases the likelihood a fundraiser will share the page.
Encourage fundraisers to send email and post to social media Number of emails / social media posts per fundraiser, email / social media conversion rate The data show that the number of emails sent and social media posts by a participant correlates positively to the number of donations they raise.
Cultivate teams and team captains Percent of participants who are on teams and similar stats, team size, team retention rate, etc Teams out-fundraise individuals in peer-to-peer events.
Team captains consistently outperform individual fundraisers.
Team involvement is linked to higher retention rates.

Pick Two or Three Metrics to Focus On

Just getting started using metrics and benchmarks to improve performance? Pick two or three areas to work on at a time. Set your own baseline. The more advanced online peer-to-peer fundraising software will let you pull the reports you need to calculate your performance against the benchmarks.

  • This year, focus on a few measurable metrics like “percent of participants who fundraise”. You want to know if the tactics you use contribute to moving the needle in these areas.
  • Chart your progress over the event season; you may find you need to change tactics mid-season to achieve your goal.
  • Next year, re-evaluate which metrics to work on; pick a new set of metrics to focus on … without letting go of the successful techniques you used to improve your fundraising performance this year.

These of course are in addition to giving participants the best possible experience they could possibly have, which will always be a part of the equation.

How Do We Get Started?

Some emerging events programs bring in an outside consultant to get started analyzing metrics and setting goals for the coming season. They’ll be able to help with setting baseline performance and advice on tactics most likely to achieve the results you seek.

For a do-it-yourself approach, a number of excellent recent benchmark reports reveal the metrics that most commonly equate to successful events AND provide advice on techniques for bettering performance in these areas.

Related Posts

Runners, Take Your Mark…

Peer to Peer Fundraising: How Do You Measure Up?

Averages, Medians and Modes … Oh, My!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathryn Hall began developing web-based applications in 1996, and in this capacity has worked with leading international nonprofits as well as Fortune 500 ecommerce and telecommunications companies. As a web producer and consultant at Blackbaud, she has managed fundraising website implementations and technical support for several major international charities. In her current role as a senior client success manager, she works principally with top peer-to-peer clients, helping them optimize their use of software, analyze their results, and incorporate best practice strategies into their events programs. When not working, Kathryn spends a lot of time tending her “animal farm” with two dogs and two cats, long-distance bicycle training, and finalizing for publication a book entitled “Touching History: Four Centuries of Indian-White Relations”.

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