fundraising lessons

For most of us, 2020 is a year we’d like to forget, despite all the fundraising lessons we’ve learned. 

So much pain, loss and heartache. I hope when you look in the mirror and at your organization you see strength and pride. 

As hard as looking back can be its the most important part of deciding your future.  

Your organization’s future depends to a large extent on the decisions you make about your fundraising strategy.

You can’t make a plan about where you’re going to go without examining your performance the past twelve months.

Your 2020 in Review

The first step to crafting your 2021 fundraising plan is conducting a “year in review” brainstorming session to review your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Skip over looking at the mistakes you made in the past and you’ll be doomed to repeat them. Fail to get a baseline of where you are, and you’ll have no way to measure your successes and progress moving forward.     

30 Questions to Ask About Your Fundraising Lessons in 2020 

  1. What worked?  
  2. What didn’t?
  3. How did we hold ourselves accountable and measure our progress this year?
  4. How should we measure it next year?
  5. What should we do differently next year?
  6. Did we have the staff, resources and tools to reach our goals this year? If not, what was missing?
  7. Do we have the staff, resources, tools & training to successfully meet our goals next year? If not, what are we missing?
  8. What is one new thing we experimented with this year?
  9. What is our overall donor retention?
  10. What percent of first-time donors make a second gift (second gift conversion rate)?
  11. What was our primary source of new donors?
  12. Where do we get our best donors?
  13. What is our average size donation?
  14. What can we do to increase it?
  15. Who are our most loyal donors?
  16. What is the average age of our donors?
  17. What did our donors teach us this year?
  18. What do we most want to learn from our donors next year?
  19. How will we ask them?
  20. What fundraising sources offer us the best ROI?
  21. How can we modify our plans to be more effective?
  22. Is there anything we should eliminate?
  23. What is our greatest opportunity to grow revenue?
  24. What is our average response rate on our direct mail appeals?
  25. Which direct mail appeal performed the best? The worst? What can we learn from them?
  26. Which email appeal performed the best? The worst? What can we learn from them?
  27. What is our average email open rate? Click through rate? How can we improve them?
  28. Is there anything happening inside our organization that could affect our fundraising success?
  29. How will we address it?
  30. What external forces can impact our success? How will we address them?

The 3 Most Important Metrics to Measure 

  1.  Donor retention 
  2.  Second gift conversion rate
  3. Donor Lifetime Value 

Donor lifetime value (LTV) is the prediction of how much money you can expect to receive from a donor in their lifetime of giving. It is not calculated by individual donors but by an average of your file or a segment of your file, for example by giving level (annual fund donors, major donors etc.) or by acquisition channel.

Lifetime value helps you make educated, informed decisions about investing in acquisition or retention. If you know the lifetime value of your annual fund donors is $1,000 then you can feel confident investing $100 to acquire a new one.

Many organizations pursue the acquisition of new donors without a lot of thought for which acquisition channel yields them the most valuable donors. You’re better off researching where you get your most valuable donors and replicating those efforts than pursuing acquisition for the sake of acquisition.

donor love and loyalty

Rachel Muir
Rachel Muir, CFRE transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.