Write Insightful Fundraising Reports with these Key Metrics

Ryan Jones • Jan 20, 2021
Keela-s+fundraising+report-960w.png

Running a nonprofit organization isn’t all black-tie gala dinners and giant novelty checks. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that impact your mission’s future, especially when it comes to fundraising.

A solid fundraising program is essential to your nonprofit’s financial health. So it’s imperative that you fully understand the ins and outs of your fundraising efforts to make those tough decisions. And the best way to do that is, of course, cold, hard data.

Reliably measuring specific fundraising data points can tell you a lot about where the money is coming from, where it needs to go, and it can shed light on your relationships with your donors. But there are thousands of data points that you could track and measure; how do you know which ones are the most revelatory? And what do you do with your measurements once you have them?

The answer: a fundraising report stacked with our eight essential fundraising metrics. Let’s get into it.

What is a Fundraising Report?

Imagine being able to see a comprehensive snapshot of your fundraising status so that you can understand how you’re doing without having to dig for numbers every time—that’s a fundraising report.

A fundraising report card is a standardized document that outlines your fundraising performance so that you can make informed decisions for the future. It lets you compare your current totals to your goals or nonprofit benchmarks, measure progress, plan for the future, and identify ways to engage your donors and build better relationships. 

This post does a good job detailing the various elements of this type of report. While it’s up to you to determine the format and context that works for you, that article contains several templates that serve as a solid foundation.

The easiest way to generate reports on demand, whether weekly, monthly or by campaign, is to set up a fundraising metrics dashboard. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Keela automates the process. It allows you to stay on top of your nonprofit’s fundraising metrics and makes your donor analytics ready for inclusion in your fundraising report.

Create Insightful Fundraising Reports with this Nonprofit KPIs Guide

This guide will help you understand how to identify your nonprofit’s key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll learn how to create a KPI dashboard and use metrics to track your progress.

8 Essential Fundraising Metrics

1. Donor Retention

Donor retention measures how many donors gave again after their first donation. It’s essentially the measure of how many people went from one-time donors to repeat donors. Generally speaking, donor retention is measured year over year, but you could shorten or lengthen that time frame if it fits your goals.

Retention is necessary because repeat donors are primed to give again. These donors have demonstrated a commitment to your cause, and are cheaper to engage and solicit. A retained donor in hand is worth two first-time donors in the bush, right? 70% of donors give only once, but the remaining 30% are worth so much more.

Set a benchmark for donor retention so that you can see how you’re doing each time you generate a report. If your retention score keeps dropping, it’s time to revise your engagement strategies.

For a more in-depth look at donor retention, spend some time digging into this post.

2. Donor Acquisition

Very simply, this is the number of new donors acquired over time. It tells you how well your marketing, communications, and fundraising strategies work on supporters who have never given before. While sometimes a costly proposition, acquiring new donors is necessary since these are the supporters you hope to convert to repeat donors.

If you are frequently failing to meet your goal in this category, you may be barking up the wrong tree. Try looking for new donors through previously unexplored communications channels or refine your content strategy. Watch for drop-off on your donation page; if visitors make it there but don’t give, you may want to clarify your message on that page.

3. Recurring Donors

People who give regularly (monthly or yearly, usually) are said to be recurring donors. They are your most valuable supporters, giving 42% more than one-time donors in an average year, and many of these donors regularly give for decades. They require less cost per donation and frequently become volunteers and legacy supporters. Everybody loves recurring donors.

Suppose you start measuring the number of recurring donors, and the number is low. In this case, you should implement some more engagement strategies targeted at new donors who are likely to give again. 

If your number of recurring donors starts high but seems to decline each month, focus on long-term engagement strategies, relationship building on a personal level, and follow-up communications. Make that phone call! You need to understand why they stopped giving.

4. Gift Size

Knowing the average amount of donations in different tiers can reveal a lot about your fundraising success (or failure). 

If you run a campaign that ends up with one big pot of money at the end, that doesn’t tell you much about how you did. Maybe most of that pot came from one big donor. Perhaps it was all $10 donations. Who can tell?

Looking at a breakdown lets you focus your efforts on the tiers that need more attention. One of the most helpful pieces of information you can have is the amount to ask for. Ask for too much, and you may get nothing. Ask for too little, and you leave money on the table. 

Fortunately, Keela Intelligence can automatically figure this out for you, so you know exactly how much to ask each time. Our smart ask insight recommends the ideal donation amounts to ask each donor based on their donor history.

Estimate Your Nonprofit Revenue with the Fundraising Forecasting Tool

Use this tool to accurately forecast gift sizes, grant funding from foundations, government, and corporations, individual and recurring donations, and much more!

5. Giving History

Annual reports are lovely, but the grand fundraising total isn’t very nuanced at the end of the year. Tracking giving history for varying periods, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, year over year, or throughout a campaign, can be a great way to identify trends and make adjustments accordingly.

Quarterly giving history, tracked for a long enough time, can reveal seasonal fundraising trends and allow you to plan to bring on more volunteers during the busy season or book the planning retreat for slower periods. Likewise, if your giving history shows that week three of a month-long campaign is when most donations come in, you can stop freaking out during week two of your next campaign.

6. Cost per Dollar Raised

Collecting a million dollars from donations is all well and good, but if it costs you $999,999 to achieve, you’re not really getting ahead. Tracking the cost per dollar raised lets you see how much you’re spending to get those vital donations.

This calculation is probably the most straightforward one on this list, but if you need to get into the nitty-gritty, check out this article from QuickBooks—the geniuses at Quickbooks really understand money in versus money out.

7. Email Conversion

Email is one of the single most enduring and effective forms of donor communication. We quote this stat frequently, but here it is again for the people in the back: for every 1,000 fundraising messages sent, nonprofits generated $45 in revenue. When every other form of communication seems to be failing, email remains relatively strong.

That said, just because email in general works, that doesn’t mean your email works. That’s why you need to calculate open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and the amount raised per email sent. These metrics will help you find opportunities to improve your email marketing program and boost your email effectiveness. Be sure to try out Keela’s email marketing tools, which let you automate your communication and track your data. 

8. Donation Page Conversion

Just having a donation page on your website does not mean that it’s collecting every potential gift. On average, the conversion rate sits at 21% for desktop users and just 9% for mobile users, so you had better be sure that your page is up to snuff. Is your donation page above or below those averages? If you don’t know, it’s time to include this stat from now on.

Tracking this datapoint using Google Analytics will help you to learn whether your page is doing fine or if it needs to be easier to understand or better designed.

1. Send Fundraising Emails

Okay, you have a template, you understand the format, and you’re collecting data. Now it’s time to bite the bullet and write the report so you can show it to your staff, the board, and whoever else has a stake in the game. Here are some tips to keep your ship pointed into the wind.

1. Restate Your Goals

Highlight important goals for the specified period of your report. It’s a great way to keep everyone on the same page and elevate the most critical stats above the din of all the numbers you’re going to show them.

2. Highlight Achievements

Point out what went right during the period that pertains to your report. It’s a morale booster that reinforces the practices that lead to ideal results. Don’t also hesitate to include opportunities for improvement.

3. Include Testimonials

Pass along positive stories from supporters to congratulate your team and remind them that their work matters. Even short quotes can help your team grow and keep pushing in the right direction.

4. Make Recommendations

What good are all these numbers without an action plan for the future? Use the report to outline some recommendations for how to proceed going forward. While your fundraising report isn’t the place to write a complete plan, it’s the perfect place to get the ball rolling, especially since you’re backing it up with data.

Write Better Fundraising Reports with this Nonprofit KPIs Guide

This guide will help you understand how to identify your nonprofit’s key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll learn how to create a KPI dashboard and use metrics to track your progress.

The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit KPIs
This complete guide will help you understand how to choose the right KPIs for your organization, how to create a KPI dashboard, and how to use metrics to tell a story. 

Fundraising Forecasting Calculator

We hope this simple calculator helps you get a handle on your nonprofit revenue streams.