Driving Recovery by the Numbers

Insights and analytics drive everything we do in fundraising – from strategy to tactics, from donor journey mapping to creative execution.  It’s not new nor is it revolutionary – but it’s vitally important to drive good decision making especially as we roll through the first wave of this pandemic and look to the rest of 2020 and beyond.  What will the numbers be and how do we plan for the possibilities in such a challenging time?

Like all good business people, we need to look at short, medium and long-term insights in order to support our fundraising and marketing initiatives now.

Our benchmarking shows that continuing to fundraise is paying off.

If you have made across-the-organization cuts, or you have not been fundraising, you have left quite a bit on the table.  In our aggregated results, organizations who have made significant cuts across the board (as opposed to those areas not possible due to the pandemic) or have done very little, are far behind those who have kept fundraising and engaging, or even done more – regardless of whether the organization is front line COVID-19 or not.  More people are inspired to give and as our previous research tells us, people still care about causes they are aligned with.  Those who have been hesitant to fundraise may feel more of an impact as they move into Q3 & Q4, as there may be a softness in giving driven by financial impacts of the pandemic.

In order to prepare us for the future, the heavy lifting for most of our organizations is in two important areas of focus for our insights work – audience profiling and attribution of revenue.

Attribution of Revenue

One positive outcome of the Covid-19 crisis is that people are really looking hard at attribution by time period.  Reporting “all in” is a key strategy and overlaying social media, marketplace impacts and specific organizational moments against your revenue, will provide you with a clear picture of how everything works together and creates halo on other channels and elements of your program.

This pandemic has driven the opportunity to report in a rolled-up way in a specific time period, and our hope is that the halos we are appreciating now, don’t leave when the pandemic does! Really looking at attribution of both online and offline white mail is an important element of your review.

Our first thought is to start at the beginning with the reality of your own actions and outcomes.  Analyze everything coming into mid-March and then up to NOW.  Create a clear picture of all metrics now (eg):

  •               Your overall revenue
  •               Number of new donors – digital and other
  •               Renewal rates YTD & Reactivations
  •               Average gifts and upgrades
  •               New to monthly, retention and additional engagement of monthly donors
  •               New to mid value, upgrades and engagement of mid value donors
  •               New to major gift and increased support
  •               All revenue channels cut or unavailable, as well as replacement and new investments

Audience Profiling

Many of our organizations have seen massive increases in new donors giving.  What do you know about your new donors?  How have your current donors changed?  Are they responding online to off-line channels now?  Have donors stepped up early in the year and upgraded significantly in early 2020?  Truly building audience understanding for the priority areas of our mission is important.  Not just so we know what they need and when, but to ensure we can deliver an amazing donor experience as we move across 2020 and beyond.

We need to put everything we have into further engagement of – not just new donors but – current and reactivated donors and all high value donors (monthly, mid value and legacy).  We need to understand their values, profiles & motivations in order to do the best job possible in engaging them moving forward and inspiring them to give again.

Benchmarking against yourself and really investing in data collection within your own CRM system is going to be critical to your organization as you navigate your planning for 2021.  To quote Allen Davidov of Environics Analytics, “Those organizations who have truly invested in data collection and hygiene, and who really look at attribution of revenue, are going to be the most successful in planning and engaging donors successfully in the future.”

If all you look at is short term ROI, you are going to miss the boat on long-term engagement that will drive real success over the next few years.

So start at the beginning on what you really have done YTD; see where you really are, and where your revenue is coming from.  Be prepared to continue using agile planning strategies with modular budgeting and planning tools that help you see the forest AND the trees as you move into 2021. Then learn, test and engage with the people who love your cause like your life depends on it.  The more you can do now – the better prepared you will be!