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Why Every Fundraiser Should Have a Sustainability Scorecard

So much has been written about nonprofit outcomes, especially when utilizing them to help donors and funders find other criteria than overhead percentages to judge by when supporting charities.

Yes, outcomes should be mission-related, but in order for any charity to sustain itself over the long run, key metrics must also be tracked in some manner as they apply to fundraising.

Many of the most forward-thinking and successful professional fundraising organizations utilize a scorecard format when tracking those metrics. Such a scorecard can include a multitude of metrics. However, many common criteria should emerge. Here are the ones I have seen most often over the decades of providing database technology to fundraising based charities:

  • Monthly revenue comparisons to budget, previous month and previous year
  • Direct integration with the fundraising database to enable tracking of
  • Donor retention (overall, first year and existing donor)
  • Number of face to face meetings
  • Number of in kind gifts
  • Average gift size
  • Average years of consecutive giving
  • Number of donors in each period giving below $500
  • Number of donors in each period giving $500 to $2,500
  • Number of donors in each period giving above $2,500
  • Percentage of volunteers who give
  • Percentage of board members who give
  • Dollar amount in donor proposals

Obviously, there can many others that can be used to predict sustainability in your fundraising efforts. The list above is certainly not meant to be exhaustive, merely illustrative.

Tracking such metrics and comparing them to your budget and previous period metrics can be the basis of a fundraising success scorecard for any size organization engaged in this mission critical task.

Uncommon Sustainability Scorecard Criteria

More and more major donors and funders want to explore deeper into whether any nonprofit organization is prepared to be successful over the long haul. This means digging deeper than just the normal fundraising metrics. It means ensuring the overall health of the organization is good, as well as poised to take the mission to even higher levels of success.

Listed below are the questions often asked by astute funders to dig deeper:

  • Does the organization have a strategic plan?
  • How often is the strategic plan updated?
  • Is there a leadership succession plan in place?
  • Does the organization have a current marketing & communication plan?
  • Is there a current fundraising plan in place?
  • Does each key role have a proper job description?
  • Are you measuring program or mission impact?
  • Is the mission impact improving or declining?
  • Are the top three organization priorities identified and action plans in place?
  • Are the top three organization challenges outlined and action plans formulated?

Any nonprofit organization utilizing all of the common and uncommon scorecard criteria mentioned above should be well positioned to keep major donors and funders well informed and satisfied.

Are there any other key criteria you have witnessed in use?

Such satisfaction should lead to even higher levels of fundraising sustainability and mission success!

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