Intro to Data Analytics for Nonprofits

Fundraising Practices

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Once the hallmark of marketing professionals and financial analysts, data analysis has now infiltrated almost all aspects of our life from fitness trackers (got to make sure you get those steps in!) to the custom playlists created for us by Spotify (yep, they use data to figure out what similar songs you might like). 

Data analytics for nonprofits is just as valuable … and even more crucial. So why, exactly, is data so important to nonprofits? Donor data can help you understand you donors and reach new ones, set goals and track successes and ways to grow, and—most importantly—data can keep your nonprofit on track to fulfill your mission! 

To get started, let’s go over some of the types of metrics your nonprofits can track: 

Types of Data Analytics for Nonprofits 

1. Fundraising Metrics 

One of the most crucial data sets to keep an eye on are your fundraising metrics. After all, you can’t support your mission without the funds needed to do so! Keeping track of metrics like donor acquisition costs and average donor gifts can help you stay on the right path, since sudden shifts can point you towards issues or even positives, like a large influx of monthly micro-donors that help your organization build a sustainable budget. 

Other good metrics to track are donor retention rate, matching gifts rate, percentage of recurring donors, total amount raised, percentage of major donors, and offline vs. online revenue. Donation source is another key metric; knowing if you’re bringing in most of your donors through your website, social, or paid promotions can help you find more donors in the most cost-effective manner possible! 

2. Social Media Metrics 

Social media posts were the #1 drivers of charitable giving in 2020, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Tracking your social media metrics can make sure you’re increasing both the reach and engagement for your posts, which helps you reach new supporters while keeping new supporters in the know and feeling appreciated. 

Great social media metrics to track include your number of followers and/or page likes, post engagement rate, post reach, and the click through rate on your posts. 

3. Fundraising Event Metrics 

Fundraising event metrics are extremely important, but often forgotten. After all, does you nonprofit really need to track the results from an event you only do once a year? Of course! How else can you make sure your event continues to improve and delight your supporters? Tracking year-over-year attendance–as well as percentages of new attendees and returning attendees—will help you make sure your event remains popular with donors. 

For fundraising auctions, you can track additional metrics like income from your silent auction vs. your live auction, top paddle raise contributors, expected ticket sale income, and the results from revenue enhancers like raffles or other sub-events

Similarly, peer-to-peer fundraising provides an opportunity to track additional metrics like top teams year-over-year, team fundraising averages, top individual fundraisers, and sign up timeframes (you’ll learn the optimal time to start outreach to potential fundraisers!). 

For any type of fundraising event, you’ll want to track your percentage of returning sponsors, and the income expected from these corporate sponsorships. 

4. Email Marketing Metrics 

Email has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel, and keeping track of your email marketing metrics is vital if you want to keep your email marketing campaigns effective.  

You’ll want to track the bounce rate—or the percentage of people who didn’t get your email—as well as open rate, click-through rate, and the unsubscribe rate.  

5. Paid Advertising Metrics 

If your nonprofit is spending your hard-earned donations on paid advertising, you certainly want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your donors’ bucks. Even if you’re involved in the Google Grants program, you don’t want to let that $10,000 monthly budget go to waste! 

In order to make sure your ads are successful, you can track metrics like return on ad spend (otherwise known as ROAS), click-through rate, cost-per-click, and conversions. 

6. Website Metrics 

Some of the most important metrics you can track are your nonprofit’s website metrics. These metrics help you track the success of your outreach programs and can help your nonprofit turn up the dial on donations. For example, if you’re tracking your pageviews, sessions, and users, and those numbers start to decrease, you can look at your traffic sources and find the reason.  

For example, I mentioned earlier that social media posts were the #1 driver of charitable contributions in 2020. Say this was true for your organization, but then you made some changes in your social media strategy and traffic to your donation form just dropped off. If you’re tracking these metrics, you can notice issues and find the solution quickly … before they throw off your nonprofit’s goals. 

Additional important website metrics to track are new users, returning visitors, bounce rate, conversion rate, pages per visit, and your average session duration. These metrics will help you track not only whether or not your bringing in new supporters while keeping existing ones, but they’ll also help you make sure your website is engaging. 

How to Track Your Fundraising Metrics 

Ready to get started tracking your fundraising metrics? Great! There are lots of tools out there to help you do just that.  

For starters, if your website isn’t set up with Google Analytics, I’d recommend getting that tracking set up first, especially since the most popular of website tracking tools is completely free. I recommend taking this step first because Google Analytics is good, but not magical, meaning that it can’t pull in historical data. The sooner you set up your analytics account, the sooner you can start tracking! 

From there, you can track fundraising metrics through your fundraising platform, your email marketing metrics through your email marketing platform … or you could look for integrations to help simplify all your tracking. Good integrations can help you sync data between your fundraising platform, CRM, and email marketing tools, making reporting easier. From there, you just need to keep your data clean and you’re nonprofit will be ready to track your data and grow! 

The Nonprofit Analytics Glossary 

  • Reach: This is the total number of unique people who actually see your content online. 
  • CPC: CPC stands for cost-per-click. You may see ad type listed as CPC, and that means you only get charged when someone clicks on your ad. You may see pay-per-click used similarly. 
  • CTR: CTR stands for click-through rate, which is the number of clicks your ad received divided by the number of times your ad was shown. 
  • Engagement rate: Your nonprofit’s engagement rate is the number of interactions your social media content receives divided by the number of followers (times 100). Interactions include things like comments, share, and reactions.  
  • Open rate: The open rate is the number of people who opened any particular email, divided by the number of subscribers the email was sent to. 
  • Unsubscribe rate: The unsubscribe rate is the number of people who unsubscribed from your email list divided by the number of emails delivered, not sent. 
  • Bounce rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit your website and then leave without viewing any other page. A high bounce rate can indicate problems with user experience. Similarly, in email terms, the bounce indicates the number of people that were sent your email and didn’t receive it.  
  • ROAS: ROAS means Return on Ad Spend. ROAS is calculated by dividing your revenue earned by the amount spent on ads.  
  • Conversion: A conversion happens when a visitor completes a desired call-to-action, such as donating, or signing up to volunteer. You can track conversions on your website easily by setting up goals in Google Analytics
  • Sessions: A session is a single visit to your website. A visitor starts a new session any time they visit your website, whether they stay for hours or minutes per visit. 
  • Pageviews: A pageview is a visit to each individual page on your site. For example, if a user visits ten pages on your website at a time, they’ve had one session, but ten pageviews. 
  • Users: A user is the individual that visits your website. 
  • Donor acquisition cost: What it costs your nonprofit to acquire a new donor. To calculate it, you divide what you’ve spent to acquire new donors over the course of a given period by the number of donors acquired. 
  • Average donor gift: The average dollar amount you receive from all donors. You calculate this by dividing the total amount raised by your total number of donors. 
  • Micro-donors: A micro-donor is someone who donates between $0.25 and $10 at a time. 
  • Donor retention rate: This measures how many supporters donate to your organization year after year. You can calculate this by dividing the number of returning donors by the number of those supporters who donated previously. 
  • Matching gifts rate: The percentage of your incoming donations made through matching gifts programs. You can calculate this by taking the number of gifts made through a match program by the number of gifts made overall. 
  • Percentage of major donors: The percentage of major donations compared to all other donations. You can calculate this by taking the number of major gifts and dividing it by the number of gifts made overall. 
  • Percentage of recurring donors: The percentage of monthly donors compared to one-time donors. You can calculate this by taking the number of monthly donors and dividing it by the total number of donors. 
  • Offline revenue: Revenue is achieved by more traditional means, such as cash or check. This is any donation that is not processed online. 
  • Online revenue: All donations processed through an online platform. 

Additional Resources

There you have it! Now you’re ready to tackle data analytics for your nonprofit. Looking for additional tools to help you take your fundraising to the next level? Check out the resources below: 

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