Traders brought Hindu-Arabic numerals from India and the Arabian Peninsula into Europe more than a thousand years ago. At first this convenient numeral system that included simple combinations of digits and a zero (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) interested mainly mathematicians. The Italian mathematician Fibonacci wrote a book that popularized this revolutionary system in the 13th century; gradually Hindu-Arabic numerals began to replace Roman numerals for bookkeeping, facilitating the expansion of commerce and trade and, eventually, the rise of the modern financial system.
Such is the power of a few numerals that let us accurately analyze and communicate the value of our goods and services. Similarly, the results or value of efforts we make in our fundraising can accurately be measured in numbers.
Too often we equate effort with value. Doing things with progress. In reality, the most valuable efforts are not always the hardest, but those with the greatest likelihood to achieve the desired result.
Key Numbers in Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Fortunately for those new to peer-to-peer performance analytics, a readily available body of work has been developed on this topic. Over time, we’ve isolated certain benchmarks that provide clues to the health of an event. Efforts that improve these metrics often lead to growth in revenue and vitality of an event or event series.
Common peer-to-peer benchmarks include the following:
- Repeat attendance
- Number of participants
- Team participation
- Percentage of participants with zero dollars
- Percentage of self-donations
- Number of emails (and social media posts) per participant
- Average donation size
Refer to Analyze This: A Nonprofit’s Guide to Event Fundraising Analytics by Convio and Event 360 for an excellent discussion of these key peer-to-peer fundraising metrics and more.
How Do I Use Metrics with My Event?
Industry benchmark reports identify how events similar to yours perform in the key performance categories.
- Start by using benchmark reports as a guide. Blackbaud’s 2012 Peer-to-Peer Event Fundraising Benchmark Study breaks events into categories: Cycling, endurance runs/walks, runs/walks with a registration fee, runs/walks without a registration fee, community, and third party events. It’s easy to find a similar enough event to get some good insight into how your results measure up.
- You don’t need to achieve the same numbers, but areas where you’re seriously out of whack with the industry may indicate opportunities. For example, if you have a repeat attendance rate of 12 percent and your peer events post 20 percent retention, you’re working extra hard to recruit new people. In addition, multi-year fundraising participants are twice as effective at raising money than first-time fundraising participants. Efforts to retain existing participants are definitely in order.
Additional reports in this category include:
- Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council and Blackbaud’s 2012 Peer-to-Peer Event Fundraising Consumer Survey focuses on peer-to-peer fundraising from the participant perspective
- Learn more about what makes a peer-to-peer participant an effective fundraiser in the 2012 donorCentrics Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Benchmarking Insights whitepaper.
Create Great Events that Are Also Great Fundraisers
Metrics are by no means a substitute for creating a great experience for peer-to-peer event participants. However, by evaluating and working on improving key performance metrics, you can ensure that a great event is also a great fundraiser. Let the metrics be your guide as to whether your efforts at creating a great experience are also paying off financially.