Measuring ROI in Multichannel Fundraising | npENGAGE

Measuring ROI in Multichannel Fundraising

By on Mar 6, 2013


Measuring ROI in multichannel fundraising campaigns can be a lot of work, but there are some clear things nonprofits can do to make the process easier. These are just a few of the insights from a new whitepaper by Peter Schoewe over at Donordigital.

“Measuring Your Return on Investment in Multichannel Fundraising Campaigns” explores three key questions to optimize an integrated fundraising program:

1. How much money should you invest in online acquisition of newdonors compared to direct mail acquisition?

2. How does the long-term value of a multichannel donor differ from the long-term value of a single channel donor?

3. What is the purpose of your fundraising efforts? is it just to raise dollars—or do want to acquire a number of advocates, volunteers, activists, etc.?

Peter Schoewe outlines a framework that helps to answer these questions:
– Establish the goal
– Start with the “I” in ROI—define Your investment
– Understand the “R” in ROI—calculate Your returns
– Measure the Multichannel return on fundraising investment for every fundraising activity

The whitepaper goes on in detail to explain ways that nonprofit organizations can work their way through the framework. It’s worth noting the importance of counting both direct and indirect costs accurately.

Peter points out that most indirect expenses, like having a website that accepts donations, must be considered the cost of doing fundraising and is independent of any single fundraising effort. Instead, focus on indirect costs that fall outside the usual cost of fundraising.

Multichannel ROI

There is a case study that shows how this framework was applied to a nonprofit’s online acquisition program. It shows what we’ve seen for a while in multichannel donor analysis: online donors have higher initial value but are less loyal than offline acquired donors.

Another area of the whitepaper explores donors acquired in 2008 to measure the return on investment over three years. The case study found that the nonprofit could balance its acquisition investment between direct mail and online—while still achieving acceptable break-even goals through both channels.

You can download a copy of “Measuring Your Return on Investment in Multichannel Fundraising Campaigns” here.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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