Fundraisers have to create reports and share presentations that highlight their fundraising campaigns’ progress and impact now and then. They have to report on key performance indicators from the total amount of donations raised to the number of prospects they’ve turned into donors.
Fundraising reports allow nonprofit teams to brainstorm and discover answers to fundamental questions such as how the organization performed in a specific campaign or during its fiscal year? What went exceptionally well, and what could be done to improve results next time? These reports reveal the health of a nonprofit and offer insights into how to move forward.
To create fundraising reports that answer essential questions, you need to consider specific vital steps and components. You can use this article as a checklist to ensure your fundraising report clearly communicates your team’s progress and performance.
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5 Steps to Creating Your Next Fundraising Report
1. Determine Context and Set Goals
Before writing your next fundraising report, take some time to consider information or data points that matter most to your organization and stakeholders. Be sure that you’re on the same page with your team about the goals of your fundraising report. Fundraising reports need to include actionable data, so be sure to consider the kinds of recommendations your organization will expect from the report.
Depending on the audience of your organization’s fundraising report, consider including contextual information that can help readers understand what certain metrics mean and how they impact your organization’s progress. If you’re sharing your report with donors, you should include details about how each metric influences your organization’s impact.
2. Highlight the Performance of Your Fundraising Funnel
Your fundraising funnel defines the path through which donors and supporters get to know about your nonprofit organization. Although the first touchpoint you have with each donor is different, they are likely to learn about your nonprofit or its program through one or more of these channels: website or organic search, email communication, social media, in-person events, referrals, or prospect outreach.
In your fundraising report, you should indicate the performance of each channel in your fundraising funnel so that your team can get a better understanding of the best ways to acquire and steward donors.
3. Visualize Your Fundraising Data
Gathering data for your fundraising report is one thing. Presenting them in a way that’s instantly understandable for your audience is another. So, it’s important to visualize your data where it’s applicable.
Want to demonstrate growth? Consider using bar or line charts. Want to showcase how many of your donors are new and recurring? Consider pie charts. These are rudimentary examples, but you get the idea: data visualization is helpful to communicating growth, decline, changes, and trends in fundraising performance over time.
Not only will this engage your audience better, but it also communicates your data more effectively and impactfully.
4. Include Testimonials
Perhaps beyond facts, figures, and fancy charts, it is the stories around how your fundraising has impacted communities that will best convey your nonprofit’s work and performance.
Few things make an impact like stories of changed lives. At the same time, you want these stories to be more than emotional fluff content—you want them to be backed by solid evidence. This is why it’s impossible for good fundraising reports to be devoid of either. Both data and good storytelling are essential to creating a compelling report.
You don’t have to write a novella—testimonials from communities and first-person accounts from beneficiaries are good ways to bring data to life.
How many more people were you able to help this year, by recruiting more new donors? How did your nonprofit’s community benefit from the few donors who decided to become recurring donors this year? Include these details, and more, in your fundraising report.
There’s no better way to communicate the human impact of your fundraising efforts and their corresponding dollar signs. By translating numerical data into real-life stories, you ultimately communicate why fundraising is vital to your organization.
5. Outline Next Steps
Including a few recommendations and action steps based on an analysis of your data is a good way to conclude your report. Keep them brief and succinct—this does not have to be a full roadmap for the next fiscal year. But it’s a good way to summarize your findings and drive them home.
It also paves the grounds for receiving more support, should you need it—for example, if you’d like more budget for your nonprofit marketing campaigns, or for a website overhaul to include a more intuitive giving page.
6 Key Metrics to Include in Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Report
1. Total Amount Raised
The total amount raised during a campaign or period is what most nonprofit team members and stakeholders want to know. They also want to know how this compares to a previous campaign or period.
The same applies to campaigns held during the same period, or for recurring fundraisers such as summer runs or annual galas. This information offers a snapshot of your fundraising performance by revealing whether or not you brought in more money this time around.
Of course, many things impact that figure. But to start, include both the monetary figure of your total amount raised, as well as the percentage of its growth or decline relative to the previous campaign or fiscal year.
It’s also helpful to note your cost per dollar raised (CPDR). If you spent $10,000 on a campaign for example and raised a total of $50,000, your CPDR is 20 cents—which is generally considered a good benchmark by most nonprofits. Cost per dollar rates are a good indicator of the performance of your fundraising campaigns and donor outreach strategies.
2. Total Number of New Donors
Knowing how many new donors contributed to your organization can offer some insight into your total amount raised, and overall fundraising performance. Did you raise more money in total because you acquired more donors—who ultimately made more donations—or did you have fewer donors this year, who happened to give more money?
Similarly, you should include details about the campaigns donors contributed to and what kinds of donors they are; i.e. are they recurring donors, major gift donors, etc? More so, weigh these numbers against numbers from the previous year, quarter, or campaign. Finally, be sure to include your donor acquisition rate—which will discuss later in this article.
3. Average Gift Size
Gift sizes are another valuable metric to include. What are the various tiers when it comes to gift size, and what are their proportions relative to the total amount?
This brings more nuance to the total giving amount you’re reporting—which could have been impacted by a handful of donors who each dropped $1,000, for example, or by a twofold increase in donors who each gave up their latte that day.
This breakdown offers an idea of which donors to focus on when it comes to outreach and engagement. It also suggests how much to ask of prospective donors during your next fundraiser—what a good, average ask amount looks like, based on the distribution of your donation size to date.
To calculate your average gift size, sum up the total amount of gifts or donations and divide that by the number of gifts or donations your nonprofit received for that period.
4. Donor Retention Rate
Aside from monetary figures, you also want to indicate how well your fundraising campaigns performed in terms of donor retention. This refers to the number of donors who gave once before, who have given to you again.
This is important because it’s less costly to keep existing donors than it is to acquire new ones. Previous donors are more likely to give to nonprofits they’ve given to before.
To calculate your donor retention rate, divide the sum of repeat donors in the current by the sum of repeat donors from the previous period and multiply that by 100.
It’s helpful to track your donor retention rate year over year. A gradual increase in donor retention rate could suggest you’re recruiting more donors who are genuinely committed to your cause, or that you’re doing something right with your donor relations strategy. On the other hand, a drop could point to donor engagement strategies that could use refining, or the need to reach out to a new base of donors altogether.
5. Recurring Donors
In a similar vein, the number of recurring donors you’ve recruited through a campaign or during a specific period could involve your donor acquisition and engagement strategies.
Your recurring donors are donors who’ve signed up to give regularly—either monthly or yearly—and these donors tend to remain committed for a long time. They’re likely to be an important source of regular giving to your organization throughout the year.
In your fundraising report, note how much of your fundraising revenue comes from this pool of givers, and the channels through which you’ve acquired them.
6. Donor Acquisition Rate
Recurring donors and high donor retention rates are great, but making strides in donor acquisition—getting first-time donors to your nonprofit—is equally worth celebrating.
It’s challenging and expensive to recruit new donors, but as mentioned previously, it’s easier to get them to give to you again once they’ve given to you before. The number of new donors, and the rate at which you’ve recruited them, could be indicative of how your marketing and fundraising campaigns are performing.
It’s also worth including how much of your fundraising comes from this particular donor pool, their average giving amount, and the channels through which you recruited them—all of these offer insights on your recruitment strategy moving forward.
To calculate your donor acquisition rate, divide the sum of new donors acquired by the sum of new donors acquired in the previous period and multiply that by 100.
Make the Right Ask at the Right Time
With the number of critical decisions being made daily in a nonprofit organization, it certainly helps to have a handy guide to refer to. Ultimately, a comprehensive fundraising report—with clear and compelling data from past periods, years, quarters, or campaigns, displayed in a visually and emotionally engaging manner—offers everyone, from your team to board members, an anchor for your next steps.