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6 Tips for Analyzing Online Fundraising Campaigns

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When you’re a busy fundraising professional, it might seem like you’re jumping from one campaign to the next. It seems often easiest to “rinse and repeat” last year’s campaigns. However, I encourage you to take some time to analyze your online fundraising campaigns to optimize your overall fundraising results.

Analyzing your campaigns can help you:

  • Track how the campaigns are performing so that you can adjust and improve them along the way
  • Understand how well the campaigns performed compared with your goals
  • Identify trends and opportunities that you can use to improve future fundraising campaigns

So, let’s look at some top tips to help you evaluate your nonprofit’s online fundraising campaigns.

1. Access your data.

Of course, analyzing your fundraising campaigns starts with accessing data from your online fundraising software. It can be helpful to set up dashboards that give you a daily overview of key performance metrics and trends for each of your campaigns.

Also, be sure to set up more detailed reports for deeper analysis. The way you set up your dashboards and reports will depend on multiple factors, including your data analysis goals and what data you need to inform your analysis.

A good place to start is to think about the metrics that are most important to each campaign. Some metrics might include:

  • Total funds raised
  • Number of donors
  • Average donation size
  • For events: number of registrants/attendees
  • For peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns or events: number of participants, number of returning participants, number of teams, average team size, average number of donations per participant

Then, set up your dashboards and reports to track year-over-year results for those metrics based on the number of weeks out from the event or campaign start/end. This will allow you to compare your progress at each point in this year’s campaign to the same point in last year’s campaign so that you can make needed adjustments.

BONUS TIP: While analyzing your fundraising campaign data is important, you can spend weeks (or months!) doing so without accomplishing anything. So, be sure to focus only on metrics that are most relevant to your campaign goals.

2. Analyze during the campaign.

Reviewing your campaign daily, weekly, and monthly allows you to adjust the campaign for optimal results.

For example, suppose your campaign is an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, and you see that the number of registered participants is down one week compared with the same point in your previous campaign. In that case, you might offer an incentive to encourage participants to register. If total funds raised by participants are down from the last campaign, you might increase participant engagement by offering tips and examples from your top fundraisers.

BONUS TIP: If you identify specific changes you should make, try making just one or two at a time to get an accurate idea of their impact.

3. Evaluate post-campaign data.

Run final reports after your campaign has ended, and all donations have been entered. Consider high-level factors, such as:

  • How did the overall fundraising campaign results compare with the goals you set?
  • For results that were higher or lower than your goals, what factors do you think impacted those outcomes?
  • How effective were your various marketing channels and efforts?

Then, dig deeper to look at trends that might give you more insights. For example, did your marketing channels or activities have less/more impact than they’ve had in previous campaigns? If so, what might have changed? Your messaging? Your branding/images? The frequency of messages?

4. Consider success factors other than numbers.

It’s hard to argue with hard numbers, but qualitative aspects of a fundraising campaign are just as important as numbers. Listen and respond to feedback from your participants, attendees, sponsors, donors, and staff throughout your campaign. Also, send a post-campaign survey to various audiences involved in the campaign to better understand things like:

  • How much staff effort did the campaign take? Were there any process bottlenecks that could be improved?
  • What did various audiences like/dislike about the campaign in terms of registration, fundraising, donating, and the overall campaign?
  • How easy was using the campaign website, fundraising tools, and donation process?

5. Debrief with your fundraising team.

Meet with everyone on your staff involved with the fundraising campaign to review your campaign goals, discuss the campaign results, and talk through lessons learned. Be sure to take detailed notes to refer to later as you plan the next campaign.

6. Think about the next campaign.

Once you’ve evaluated your campaign, start thinking strategically about your next campaign. Here are some things to consider:

  • If your last campaign wasn’t as successful as you’d like, consider changing the next campaign’s timing, messaging, theme, or structure.
  • If your campaign met most of your goals, maybe you should focus on making sure your next fundraising campaign doesn’t leave money on the table.
  • If the fundraising campaign exceeded your goals, maybe your strategy should be to focus on a specific area of the campaign, such as providing sponsors with greater value to keep them coming back, giving peer-to-peer fundraising participants the tools and encouragement they need to raise more, or encouraging past donors to give again by showing them the impact of their donations.

You can also use your fundraising campaign data for specific insights into how to improve your future campaigns. For example:

  • When to start – Look into your past campaigns to understand the best time to launch various aspects of your campaign. For example, for a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, look at when your top performers registered. Then, consider timing a multi-channel recruitment approach that coincides with when your biggest supporters typically register. That way, you can use their enthusiasm as a launching point for registration.
  • Where to focus your resources – Whenever you can, use source codes in your online fundraising efforts to attribute registrants and donors to specific marketing channels. Then, you can use this information to decide which channels are worth keeping, which should have more resources, and which you should leave behind.
  • When to offer incentives – For example, if you’re running a peer-to-peer campaign and offer fundraising milestone badges, look up your levels to see how many participants reached them. If participants fall short of your lowest tier, you might want to lower it for the next campaign or adjust your communications to encourage participants to reach their goals. On the flip side, if too many people are quickly reaching your lowest tier, consider raising it.

Analyzing your fundraising campaigns goes a long way toward making them the best they can be. Take time to gather and study fundraising campaign data, and you’ll have the insights you need to take your future campaigns to the next level.

Author: Mark Becker, Founding Partner, Cathexis Partners

Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008, providing technical and consultative services to nonprofits of all sizes and types. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits. For more than 20 years, Mark has supported hundreds of nonprofit online fundraising efforts.

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