January 28, 2019 Douglas Shaw & Associates

Ask This Question To Improve Your Fundraising Results

Are you taking your first steps toward establishing your 2019 fundraising goals? Your success can likely be found in your data and more importantly, what it might be telling you.

It’s easy to get tangled in the weeds when analyzing your data, so we suggest that you start with a high-level look at your results, then ask yourself, “why?” Digging deeper into your data will help you get to the root of the problem (or opportunity), and give you every chance to improve your revenue and grow your donor file.

Set the Benchmark

It’s often been said that to know where you’re going you need to know where you’ve been. Similarly, to improve on past fundraising results, it’s important to know how your revenue compares to where you were in previous years. It’s only by analyzing this data year-over-year that you can make adjustments.
At first glance, your income may look steady or even up from previous years, but you should look at your data from multiple angles to make sure you understand the “why” behind the “what.”

Uncovering the “why” to your donor file trends helps you to know what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan for the future. For example, if your direct mail gifts are down, it could be for a variety of reasons. Did you send out fewer appeals this year? Maybe you cut a mailing for budget reasons? Did you mail fewer donors? Or were the appeals not as compelling this year? Maybe your asks weren’t as clear.

Get to the Source

Another measurement of the health of your donor file requires that you look at your income by source.

Having your gifts assigned to source categories can be extremely useful, but to analyze this information correctly requires that you are disciplined about coding every gift to the appropriate source. It can be a lot of effort, but it always pays off!

Coding your gifts regularly will open a whole new world of data insight for your organization. You will get a clear view of all the ways your donors are giving to you, and will see how donations to each of your communication channels is changing over time.

The bottom line is that this exercise alone will allow you to see how the changes you make to your fundraising communications are translating directly to dollars coming in the door.

Growth will not happen overnight, but at this time of year it’s important that you take steps in the right direction. It all starts with looking at your data, having the processes in place to reveal growth opportunities, and going beyond the “what” and using your data to answer the “why.”

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