21st Century Fundraising Metrics


Remember the old saying – What gets measured, gets done?

We all know it goes for fundraising too, right?

So what do you want to get done in your fundraising program this year?

  • Certain amounts of money raised?
  • Donors renewing their gifts?
  • More major donor visits?

Then create the right benchmarks and start tracking.

Tracking something gets it done. Tracking something gives you a chance to test out various fundraising strategies.

You can see what works, what doesn’t — and raise more using the strategies that work best for YOUR donors.

How are YOU measuring your fundraising progress?

Are you collecting data that is useful and actionable?

Are you making decisions based on real live data? Decisions that can change the way you are doing things? Decisions that result in more money raised?

Fundraising guru Roger Craver has just published “Fundraising Metrics That Really Matter” on the Agitator Blog (highly recommend!)

It’s a MUST READ for every smart fundraiser – even some board members would enjoy it, to learn more about the inner workings of fundraising.

Roger says that the best kind of metric is one that – if you acted on it – will “affect the value of your donor base.”

I like that kind of talk because I want to see everyone’s donors spill over with enthusiasm, and continuously send more resources our way.

Fundraising “Vital Signs”

Craver describes key fundraising metrics as like vital signs for the human body, pulse, blood pressure, etc.

And they help you find opportunities to raise more money.

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So this is why your metrics are so important.

They help you ask “what can I do differently? What can I tweak or try out that will make a different in our fundraising totals?”

Here’s Roger Craver’s List of Fundraising Metrics that Really Matter:

Number of New Donors Making A Second Gift

We all know that most new donors don’t renew.

In fact, only about 1 in every 5 new donors typically renews their gift.

Measuring what your new donors do is an important first step in retaining them, keeping them close, and building them into lifetime supporters.

First – you have to get that second gift from a first time donor!

First Year Retention Rate

So what percentage of your new donors is renewing?

You worked so very hard to gain these new donors, and how fast are they slipping away?

Consider all the reasons your donors might not be renewing their gifts. Try out different strategies with your new donors to test how they react.

Measuring new donor retention is the first step toward improving this essential number.

Multiple Year Retention Rates

The people who have been donating to you for a long time are so, so valuable.

They are your base of loyal supporters. They are your sustainable cash flow.

Tracking this number lets you judge how well your post-gift donor engagement and communication efforts are working – or not!

Your donor retention numbers tell you everything about the quality of your fundraising program. 

Lifetime value of a donor.

Roger Craver says

“This is the Key Metric on which you can benchmark, guide and then track the success — or failure — of your intermediate and long term strategies.” Find out how to calculate YOUR donors LVT here.

More metrics – track them annually.

Roger Craver suggests additional metrics that will help you fine-tune your annual giving program:

  • Average Gift size
  • # gifts per donor
  • % of donors who upgrade their gifts

There’s more at his post on the Agitator Blog here.

Free offer – Find Out Your Own Fundraising Metrics Quickly

Craver is also making an awesome offer. (I highly recommend that you take him up.)

Find out these metrics for your own donor base by signing up here for a quick free analysis of your own house file’s performance from his sister company DonorTrends.


Just think how valuable it would be to be able to have clear data – information that can tell you exactly where you are, so you can make it better.

BOTTOM LINE on Fundraising Metrics:

If you want to really. really raise more money for your amazing cause, then create some fundraising metrics that really matter.

Things will get done – because they are being measured.

Set yourself up to make decisions based on data. Then make informed decisions that can change the way you are doing things.

Your donors will be happier, and you’ll raise tons more money!