When it comes to determining how efficiently your nonprofit operates, there’s nothing quite as helpful as a large pool of accurate, relevant performance indicators that can objectively show you exactly how well you’re doing.
But sometimes, it can be tough to figure out exactly what measurements your organization needs in order to identify where your performance may leave room for improvement.
That being said, most nonprofit organizations will be able to make use of some of the same core key performance indicators (KPIs).
Here we’ve selected 20 fundraising-related KPIs that have aided development directors, executive directors, major gift officers, and nonprofit management everywhere.
To make them easier to digest, we've grouped the KPIs into four categories:
To a certain extent, all nonprofit KPIs are fundraising metrics. Given fundraising's prominent position in a nonprofit's operations, it is arguable that any and all success metrics are related, even if just peripherally, to the act of raising funds.
However, the other, more indirectly connected indicators here are situated to be classified even further, which is why this list contains donor retention, social media, and email metrics as well.
A comprehensive analysis of all seven of these KPIs will help you answer three main questions:
- How many donations did your organization receive this year?
- What channels did those donations come through?
- What were the standard donation sizes?
As part of an ongoing effort, this analysis will help you isolate areas of weakness that are primed for targeted improvement in your donation gathering processes.
The name says it all. This fundraising metric is just as straightforward as it seems.
Gifts secured simply accounts for how many gifts your organization received over a set amount of time.
You can track a week, a month, a quarter, a year...whatever span of time is most informative for your organization.
For more granular insights, you can also split this metric up by gift type. For example, if you were trying to develop your major gift program, you could focus this metric by isolating the donations your organization classifies as major gifts.
Keeping track of your gifts secured can help you measure your short term goals and adjust for any areas that aren't working before you get too off track.
To calculate: Add up how many gifts your organization received over a certain period of time. The sum equals your gits secured.
Donation growth is a KPI that basically just takes gifts secured a step further.
This metric tracks your gift secured over a longer span of time to help you make sure you're meeting your long-term fundraising goals.
With donation growth, you can see any patterns that are emerging with your donations and adjust your strategies accordingly.
For example, if you’re able to look back on the year and see that your donation growth stagnated or dropped in a specific month (say, August), you might be able to use that information to plan for that period next year.
Once next August rolls around, you can make sure your team puts out a more concerted effort to secure donations around that time.
To calculate: As with gifts secured, add up how many gifts your organization received over a certain period of time.
Average Gift Size Growth
One of the best ways to see better fundraising results? Increase the size of your donations.
Like its name suggests, average gift size growth measures the percentage by which your average gift size has increased over a certain period of time.
Say your goal is to raise your average gift size by 25% over the coming year. One of the easiest ways to see a 25% growth in donations for the year is to spur your donors into each donating 25% more during that year.
If you see that your efforts net you a large number of new donors but everyone is donating in small amounts, perhaps you can leverage your relationships and spend less time focusing on finding new donors and more time cultivating the ones you already have.
After all, $10,000 from 50 people instead of 500 is still $10,000.
This KPI is an excellent way to make sure your fundraising isn't becoming stagnant. You want to grow, and the only way to do that is to consciously keep track of your growth to make sure you're improving.
To calculate: Divide the sum of your donations last year by total number of donations last year. Repeat with this year's donations. Subtract last year's average from this year's average. Then, divide the difference by last year's average. Multiply by 100 to see your percent increase.
Pledge Fulfillment Percentage
Whenever nonprofits are dealing with pledges, the biggest fear they have is with regard to how much of that “pledged” value they'll actually retain from their pledging donors.
To avoid that potential nightmare, it would be nice to have a sense of how much of those funds you'll realistically end up receiving.
That’s where pledge fulfillment percentage comes in. As you would likely guess, it tells you what percentage of your pledges are being fulfilled.
While you’ll always want to account for a certain amount of error, knowing more accurately the pledging patterns of your constituents over a historical period can really help you forecast how many funds you'll actually receive and prepare accordingly.
To calculate: Divide the number of pledges fulfilled by total number of pledges, then multiply by 100.
Fundraising Return on Investment (ROI)
Return on investment is pretty important, especially to an organization with a limited budget.
Your fundraising ROI tells your organization whether or not you made a gain on the money invested in your fundraising efforts by calculating how much money you raised from each dollar you spent.
It's easy to leave out certain costs, so make it a point to take everything into account here. You’ll want as comprehensive a data set as possible to keep track of where you’re spending your money and how much you’re getting out of it.
For example, don't forget that the cost of your donor management software contributes to your fundraising ROI. At Salsa, the average cost of our fundraising software solutions has historically been around $0.03 for every $10 in funds raised.
Obviously, for this one you want your funds raised to be greater than your costs, but keep in mind there's always room for improvement. If you can lower your costs even more, the amount of money you can actually put towards your cause will be even greater.
To calculate: Divide your total costs by total funds raised. If your result is less than 1, your organization gained more than it spent. If it's greater than 1, you spent more than you gained.
Cost Per Dollar Raised (CPDR)
Similar to fundraising ROI, cost per dollar raised (CPDR) is another way of calculating whether or not your organization made a gain on the investment you put towards your fundraising.
Essentially an inversion of fundraising ROI, cost per dollar raised measures how much money your organization spent for each dollar you raised.
Because calculating CPDR will give your organization the same insights as calculating your ROI, it doesn't matter which you choose.
It all depends on which slant you want to put on it. Would you rather look at your investment in terms of how much you raised or in terms of how much you spent?
Either way, you'll know exactly how much money you're putting towards your fundraising and whether or not you need to adjust your costs.
To calculate: Divide total funds raised by total costs. This time you want your results to be greater than 1!
Online Gift Percentage
Online gift percentage tells organizations what portion of their overall donations have come from online channels, primarily their online donation page.
In most cases, the cost of acquiring donations online is much lower than through any other medium, so you want to maintain a healthy percentage of gifts received digitally.
Fundraising software tracks all gifts made to your organization, so it's easy to see how many of your gifts were made online and how many were made offline.
To calculate: Divide the number of total online gifts received this year by total number of gifts. Multiply by 100.
Donor Retention Metrics
Acquisition can grow the reach of your donor base, but it cannot increase your numbers if most of your supporters only give once and don't return.
Without solid donor retention, acquisition's focus has to be on recovery rather than progress, where it should be.
Luckily, there are some handy donor retention metrics to help you stay on track and rock your retention!
Donor Retention Rate
With an entire category devoted to donor retention metrics, it only makes sense to lead with the metric that features donor retention in its name.
Donor retention rate allows your organization to track what percentage of donors in your base have given more than once.
In other words, it measures how many of your contributors are recurring donors.
Recurring donors are incredibly valuable to nonprofits. In fact, about 88% of funds raised come from only 12% of an organization's donor base. A whopping 87% of those funds are made by recurring donors.
Throw in the fact that gaining new relationships is always more costly than cultivating existing ones, and it's easy to see just how important keeping an eye on this KPI can be.
If your donor retention rate leaves room for improvement, don't worry. Retaining donors is not as difficult as it may seem.
To calculate: Divide the number of recurring donors by total number of donors, then multiply by 100.
Donor Growth (Year-Over-Year)
When you’re focusing on improving your fundraising efforts, you’ll always, always want to make sure that you’re accurately measuring the growth in donors your nonprofit experiences year-over-year.
This is another metric where the name says it all. Your year-over-year donor growth simply tells you how much your donor base has grown (or shrunk) over a year-long period.
If this KPI is negative, well, there aren’t going to be many indicators that act as a bigger red flag. If you’re losing donors, odds are, you’re losing ground in other areas.
Just keep in mind, this metric can reveal that your issue is with acquisition and not retention.
The best method of judging that is to study donor growth in conjunction with the other retention performance indicators. If all other retention data looks good, acquisition problems are the most likely cause of your donor loss.
If not, it's time to think about how you can improve your retention strategies.
To calculate: Divide the total number of donors in your base at the end of last year by the total number of donors in your base this year. Multiply by 100.
Recurring Gift Percentage
Similar to your donor retention rate, you’ll want to track how many of the gifts you receive are recurring gifts.
Recurring gift percentage tells your organization exactly what portion of your total gifts come from recurring donors.
If you can confidently expect that you’ll continue to receive those gifts and recognize where those gifts are coming from, you may be able to leverage that and begin a small, targeted campaign to increase those gift sizes.
Or, you can focus on increasing the number of donors who begin giving recurring gifts to raise that percentage.
Either way, you'll be forming more valuable donor relationships that will help your organization raise more funds.
To calculate: Divide number of recurring gifts by total number of gifts received. Multiply by 100.
If you really want to make the most out of the donors you already have, your organization should be measuring giving capacity.
This metric is an informed estimate of how much money your donors are able to give.
The advantage of calculating giving capacity is threefold:
- Your organization can make more specific and relevant asks.
- You can better pinpoint potential major gift donors in your database.
- When coupled with other data sources such as giving history, you can roughly forecast how much your organization might receive from donors over a given year.
One of the best ways to improve your asks is by requesting a specific amount. Giving capacity lets you know just how much to ask for, increasing the chances that your donors will give.
You can also determine if some of the donors in your base are capable of giving more. That way, you can work on cultivating those relationships and upgrade recurring donors to higher giving levels.
Overall, measuring giving capacity will help you execute more targeted and effective fundraising efforts.
To measure: For this one, you'll need the assistance of an excellent prospect research and wealth screening software.
Although more of an acquisition than a retention metric, conversion rate can give you valuable insights into all of your donors, new and recurring.
Conversion rate tells you how many donors took an action when prompted by your organization.
To measure this KPI you need to look at a specific call-to-action. It could be a donation ask or another request.
For example, if you're an organization that runs advocacy campaigns, you could measure how many supporters signed an online petition you included in your outreach.
In fact, it can be more insightful to look at the conversion rate for CTAs other than asks. Your relationships with your donors run deeper than simply requesting and receiving donations, so it's important to determine that you're engaging them beyond the donation process.
This metric can be useful in two main ways:
- It allows your organization to see if your outreach strategies are effective.
- By tracking other interactions with your organization, you can gain more insights into the habits and affinities of your donor base to pinpoint further opportunities for engagement.
If you want to make sure your stewardship is healthy and diverse, there's no better way to do so than by tracking conversion rate.
To measure: Divide total number of donors who took an action by total donors prompted by the CTA. Multiply by 100.
Your donors can't take action if you aren't communicating with them!
Outreach rate measures how often you're getting in touch with your donors.
You can focus in on one specific outreach channel—say, your email campaigns—or look at your overall outreach strategy to see where you're approaching donors most and if you need to reach out more in a certain area.
Outreach rate is another way of determining how successful your stewardship is. If you aren't contacting donors on a regular basis, your retention rate will likely suffer.
Make sure you keep in touch so that you can form the strongest and most valuable donor relationships.
To measure: Count how many times you contacted donors through one or more channels over a certain amount of time. This metric is more easily calculable with the help of a robust fundraising software!
And with the ever-growing trend towards all things digital, it's a crucial part of any fundraising strategy.
When you throw in the fact that about 1/3 of online funds come from email, you can see just how important it is that your email outreach be as strong as possible.
How do you measure success? By frequently checking key performance indicators on your email campaigns, of course!
Here we've provided some of the most popular and insightful email metrics, so your email game will always be on point.
Open rate is yet another metric where the name says it all.
This KPI tells you what percentage of your email list opened an email from your organization.
The engagement process is over before it even starts if your donors aren't opening your emails. They won't see all of the amazing content you're sharing about your cause or have the opportunity to donate if they're not reading.
That being the case, you want your open rate to be as high as possible!
If you find that your open rate is lower than you'd like, try experimenting with your subject lines. Most email marketing software allows you to split test your emails so you can test the efficacy of different subject lines.
Also, make sure that you're emailing donors from a recognizable address, so they know the correspondence is coming from your organization. They're much more likely to open an email from a trusted sender, and you're more likely to avoid being delivered directly to the spam box.
To measure: Email marketing software will automatically track open rate for you.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Once your supporters open your email, the hope is that they'll start interacting with your organization.
Click through rate measures what percentage of recipients in your list clicked on a link included in your email.
Tracking this metric is important because you want to keep your donors engaged for as long and through as many channels as possible.
Click through rate is an excellent way of determining how many supporters took the next step by visiting your website, your online donation page, or another important link.
While open rate is the critical first step to engagement, CTR tells you how many of your supporters you've successfully managed to engage.
To measure: This is another KPI tracked by email marketing software.
Email Conversion Rate
Although we've already touched on conversion rate, email conversion rate warrants its own category, because email conversion will make up a significant percentage of your online funds.
Email conversion tells you how many of your supporters acted on a certain call-to-action, specifically one included in an email.
Considering that about a third of your online donations will come from email, here it's probably more valuable to measure how many supporters in your list acted on a donation ask.
If it turns out your email conversion is lower than you would have liked, one of the easiest fixes is tweaking your call-to-action. Make sure it's clear and easy to spot so that donors know exactly what you're asking for and how to act accordingly.
If that doesn't work, it's probably worth taking a closer look at your content. Experiment with different strategies until you find the one that brings the best results.
To measure: Again, this is a metric that your email marketing software will calculate for you. However, if you want to calculate it on your own, simply divide the total number of people contacted by the total number of actions taken, then multiply by 100.
Although it's always better to focus on the positive, looking at the areas where you're losing ground can sometimes be more telling.
That's where the opt-out rate metric comes in. It measures how many recipients in your list unsubscribed from your email campaign over a certain amount of time.
Obviously, you want to reduce your opt-out rate as much as possible.
A high opt-out rate can have two major culprits:
- Frequency: If you're contacting supporters too frequently, they might become annoyed by the bulk of your emails and opt out.
- Content: Constantly asking for donations or sending irrelevant content can be a huge turn off for recipients. When considering content, always ask yourself the question: are we providing our supporters with something of value?
Opt-out rate can be one of the biggest indicators of whether or not you need to tweak your email strategies. Consistently keep an eye on it to make sure that your emails are on the right track to helping you achieve your fundraising goals.
To measure: Check your email marketing software!
Social Media Metrics
With a limited advertising budget at your nonprofit, garnering the most value you can out of free services—like many social media platforms—is an absolute must.
But many organizations spend far too much time focusing on the wrong things when it comes to social media.
So what should you be focusing on?
Well, the whole point of any marketing effort is not just to generate impressions; it is to spur engagement with your audience of current and potential donors and volunteers.
You want to drive your followers to your website, not simply collect "likes" on your Facebook page. In fact, pure social media reach on some platforms, like Facebook, may be a lot less valuable than you might think.
Due in part to the platform's desire to encourage brands to pay for advertisements, since 2012, less than 16% of your total fans actually see your posts in their Facebook News Feeds via pure organic reach.
That's not to say that social media reach isn't important, though. It just means that you don't want to focus your time worrying solely about how many likes you get.
Instead, focus on how you can:
- Send more prospects from social media to your website, where you'll be able to convert them and gather valuable information.
- Encourage your visitors and followers to share your content with their friends and followers.
To improve your efforts on these two fronts, track your performance using the three social media metrics listed below.
Amplification, Applause, and Conversation Rates
These three metrics have been grouped together because they are much more analytically crucial as a unit. Most social media performance indicators are slippery.
There is not always a clear line from the data to its insight into your nonprofit's ability to fundraise.
Due to the inherent lack of clear cause and effect, examining each amplification, applause, and conversation together puts the insights you gain into context.
Let's quickly define each of these terms.
Amplification rate refers to any instance when one of your social media posts is shared by a third party.
Social sharing has a different name on each site:
- Twitter: Retweets
- Facebook and Google+: Shares
- Vine: Revines
- Tumblr: Reblogs
- Pinterest: Repins
No matter what you call them, these amplifications are a basic way of assessing your social network's interest in your posts. Seeing what gains popularity and what fades into the background can guide your future activity.
The better your amplification, the greater your reach. Shareable content is key.
Applause rate is like amplification-lite.
With amplification your posts are being dispersed via shares, not only extending your reach, but also providing insight into your supporters' preferences.
Applause rate is an indication of the latter. You won't learn much more than what people like and don't like from applause rate.
"Likes" and other acts of social media applause are relatively noncommittal and passive ways of engaging. If you want to study more active engagement, zero in on the next metric.
Conversation rate is based on how many conversations your various posts start.
Conversations are categorized as comments on most social media sites, except for Twitter, where they are known as replies.
Starting up a conversation is one of the most active ways supporters can interact with your organization on social media.
Conversations allow supporters to tell you exactly what they're interested in directly from their own mouths (or, in this case, keyboards!), so you want to post content that's going to spark as many conversations as possible.
Looking at your supporters' replies to your posts is one of the best ways to inform your future posts and optimize your social media outreach.
Although you can technically calculate all three of these rates into percentages, it's more valuable to evaluate them situationally.
When you look at the combination of these metrics past just the numbers, they will tell you what your social network wants and expects from your organization's pages.
As is the case with your other fundraising efforts, the goal is to see ROI in the form of donations.
Amplification, applause, and conversation rates won't give you that data, but they will help you adjust your strategies so you can work towards achieving a higher ROI.
Landing Page Conversion Rate
The end goal of all of this social media effort is to be able to further serve your mission.
Of course, a major component of that service is securing donations.
If you want to see if the time and resources that you're dedicating to social media are paying off, you need to be tracking landing page conversion rate.
Landing page conversion rate measures how many visitors to your donation page (in this case, from social media) completed the donation process.
Using a tracking tool, like Google Analytics, can help you determine a number of important factors, including:
- How many visitors reached a specific page (e.g. your donation page).
- How they arrived at that destination.
- How many completed the action.
Compare the conversion rates of various sites, and scale back your efforts on sites that are not bringing you a positive ROI.
To calculate: Divide total number of visitors to your donation page by total number of donations made. Multiply by 100.
Fundraiser Participation Rate
If your organization is running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, this key performance indicator is for you!
Fundraiser participation rate tracks how many of your fundraisers are working to secure donations on your behalf and what actions they're taking to do so.
This metric is really twofold. In order to get the best insights into your fundraisers you should look at:
- How much money they've raised for your organization throughout the campaign.
- Where and how often fundraisers took actions to participate in your campaign.
By viewing the two in conjunction, you can determine how successful the efforts of individual fundraisers were and how much work each put into your campaign to see the results they did.
This not only helps you pinpoint the most valuable fundraisers in your base for your future P2P efforts, but also allows you to see greater trends within the campaign.
If your overall fundraiser participation is low, it's probably a sign that your organization needs to adjust your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign management in some way.
To measure: Enlist the help of a great peer-to-peer software, which will automatically track fundraiser actions and allow you to oversee participation.
Each of these key performance indicators can give you valuable insights into your organization's fundraising strategies and help you determine if you're staying on track to reach your goals.
When used separately, these metrics can help you improve specific fundraising efforts. When used together, they can be excellent indicators into the overall success of your organization.
No matter how you use them, calculating KPIs on a regular basis is sure to help you see better fundraising results.