Shortly after my son was born, he was weighed and measured. And so it began: A new life surrounded by numbers. How long did he sleep? Apparently the ‘average’ baby slept longer than my little guy. How often did he eat? Oh no! This ‘average’ baby ate more often than him too. Who was this ‘average’ baby anyway? This entry into parenthood served as a good reminder that there are some important metrics to follow, but you should not be afraid to dig a little deeper when it comes to the information behind the numbers. And after I started to get sleep in blocks longer than 4 hours, I realized the same applies to metrics tied to fundraising events.
This realization about event fundraising analytics was reinforced during recent conversations with Alan Cooke at Convio and Jeff Shuck at Event 360. Basically, there are many key metrics organizations should monitor closely. Below are a few that stood out to me:
1. Donors per participant. This metric is one of the best ways to understand participants’ fundraising reach. If this number falls below three, then it’s time for your organization to take a closer look at how participants fundraising. The best way to boost this number and increase adoption of fundraising tools is to share tips and best practices with participants, who may be inspired and reinvigorated by the ideas they receive.
2. Number of emails sent per participant. Time to dig a little deeper here because the average for this metric can be easily skewed by participants who are not sending any emails. (As my accounting professor at business school once told our class, “If you have one hand in boiling hot water and the other in freezing cold water then, on average, you’re warm.”) So, look at the median to find out how actively participants are reaching out to their contacts. After you’ve identified those participants who are slacking off, reach out to them with a very specific action that they can execute easily. For example, tell them to look in their sent folder and email the five people they’ve contacted most recently to ask them for a donation.
3. Amount per gift. Gift size is an interesting metric to track because it can be influenced by various factors, such as how easy it is for a person to give, or by gift levels presented on a donation form. For this metric, the average donation might not provide you with a realistic view of your participants’ fundraising efforts and results because it can be skewed by some very generous donors. In this case, the median donation amount is a better number to examine. Try to boost this number by tweaking donation forms or streamlining the online donation process.
There are more details about key metrics and best practices in driving online fundraising success in Analyze This: A Nonprofit’s Guide to Event Fundraising Analytics. This joint guide published by Convio and Event 360 contains some sound advice that can be applied by any nonprofit which uses event fundraising as a source of donations.
(By the way, my son has turned out just fine. He’s reached the important milestones and has proven to be a very kind and gentle soul. My daughter, on other hand is a force to be reckoned with. I guess you could say that, on average, they’re normal. )