Many nonprofit organizations make the mistake of thinking that once the new year has passed, their year-end responsibilities are over. After all, the year-end fundraising efforts have concluded, year-end reports have been made, and accounts have been closed out. What more is there to do?
While it may seem odd to begin working on year-end now, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to review and evaluate your fundraising efforts for the previous year, and begin planning ways to improve for efforts this year. There are many things you can do to review your previous years fundraising, from surveying your supporters to evaluating your website analytics.
Fundraising software can help you prepare for year-end now. This article will focus on a number of reports you can easily run within Sage Fundraising Online, and how you can use these reports to plan for the current year. The key to evaluating these reports is to look for areas where you can improve and identify actions that worked well. With this information you can do more of what worked and test new actions in the areas you need improvement.
Report 1 – All Campaigns for the Year
Create a report that includes all of the campaigns you ran during the previous year, whether they were a donation form or a fundraising event. This type of report will give you a great overview of the year and an easy way to compare and track your progress year over year.
You can create this report using the default Form Answers report making sure to Add “all campaigns” to the report and “Filter by..” set as last year. This will probably end up being quite a large report, with a lot of data. We suggest you download the report and use Excel (or a spreadsheet program) to manipulate the data there.
You can total columns, sort by donor name, etc. within the spreadsheet to dig out the information you need.
The areas we recommend you evaluate and track in this report include:
- Total dollars raised this year
- Total number of donors
- Total number of donations
- Total number of new donors
- Total number of repeat donors
- Average number of donations per donor
- Average gift size
If this is your first year running this type of report then this will become your baseline to compare future years. If you do have this data from previous years, then you can look at each data point and see if there are patterns or trends over the years. Are the numbers going up or going down? If a data point is increasing, you can explore why that may be and do more of it this year. If a data point is decreasing you can explore why you think that may be happening and brainstorm ideas to address this during the year.
For example, if you notice that your average gift size has dropped since the previous year why do you think that happened? Did you have different donation amounts on your forms (larger amounts, smaller amounts, different order, etc.) or could it be that donors ended up donating more than one time on average? The data can be used to give you ideas for testing this year.
Report 2 – Monthly Totals
Create a report that contains all campaigns, summarized by month. We are not really concerned with the individual donations here, just the monthly total of dollars raised. This report will give you a great snapshot of the year and make it very easy to identify seasonal trends and patterns.
To create this report you can use a default Form Answers report using all campaigns and all forms. You then add a new column to the report for the month. Move the new column you just created to the top of the “Format as..” section. You can then use this new field Month (Local) to “Summarize by..” month. The key questions to answer from this report include:
- Which months do you raise the most money?
- Which months do you raise the least amount?
- Are there any months where you can add a new fundraising campaign or event?
For example, if you notice that you raise very little money from January through April, you can think of a fundraising campaign you can launch during this time.
Report 3 – Fundraising by Form
Create a report showing the total amount raised for each of your fundraising software forms. If you have too many forms to make this feasible, you can also run this report for each campaign instead.
You can create this report by adding all forms to a report, moving the “Form Name” column to the top of the list and then “Summarize by..” Form Name.
As with the other reports, we are looking for trends and patterns within the report. Identify which forms raised the most and least amount of money over the year and try to evaluate why some performed better than others:
- What type of form raised more money – donation forms or registration forms?
- Were these generic donation forms or program/event specific forms?
- Where were these forms located? Where they on the home page or main program pages, or buried deeper in the site?
- How did you drive traffic to the higher producing forms?
Once you have identified some of the patterns or causes for the resulting performance, it is much easier to do more (or less) of those actions this year.
Analyzing these reports provides you with an opportunity to strategize your fundraising efforts for the coming year and improve your performance by creating a baseline to compare efforts year over year.
If you are looking to invest in fundraising software or need help creating the reports you need in your current fundraising software solution, call RBP Methods at (503) 648-9051.