Data can be daunting. Not only can the idea of delving into numbers be intimidating, but there are also a ton of terms you need to wrap your head around before anything makes much sense. And even after you have a grasp of the terminology it’s tough to know where to start.

When it comes to measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising efforts, it’s easy (and common) to get lost, floating amidst the sea of data available.

What data matters the most? And how do you find it? While there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a common starting point.

Everything Centers Around Online Profit

The first key when measuring online fundraising is a sound mindset. Instead of giving every metric equal weight, remember:

All the decisions you make with regards to
online fundraising center around online profit

That’s the bottom line. If fundraising is one of your website goals, online profit should be your primary concern when measuring online fundraising. The metrics outlined below don’t matter in their own right. They only matter insofar as they ultimately lead to more overall dollars for your organization.

Total profit from online giving is the metric that should keep you up at night. It’s the one that you should celebrate first and foremost when reviewing your website data. It’s the one that should determine if your website is a success (again, assuming boosting donations is one of your primary website goals).

But profit isn’t easily tracked in most analytics tools since most tools are unaware of your expenses. So while you need to be mindful of your expenses, when using your analytics tool you’ll likely focus on revenue instead of profit.

Become consumed with driving up online revenue. Then use the metrics below to determine how you actually make that happen.

Configuring Google Analytics

Before diving into the metrics, it’s worth noting that while we’re using Google Analytics here, you can likely measure similar metrics with whatever analytics tool you’re using. If you’re using a system outside of your website to accept donations, you should check out what analytics they have available.

Also, while Google Analytics is incredibly powerful and free, it takes a bit of configuring to allow you to measure everything I outline here. The full details on configuration fall outside the scope of this post, but to get started, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Set up receiving a donation as a goal in your Google Analytics (the easiest way is to create a “Thanks for Donating” page that users see after they donate and set this up as a Destination Goal in Google Analytics)
  • Set up an advanced segment for Donors that includes users who complete your goal of making a donation
  • Set up Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics to see actual revenue numbers
  • If you’re using a third-party application to accept donations off of your website, set up cross-domain tracking (if possible) to pass data back to your Google Analytics account

If you need further help, explain what you’re looking to do to your web developer and ask them to get it all set up for you. Sometimes the setup gets a bit technical.

But once it’s set up you’ll be able to see the following helpful metrics in Google Analytics.

Landing Pages Leading to the Most Donations

A landing page is the first page a visitor lands on when they come on your site.

Look at which landing pages are leading to the most donations, both in total revenue and total number of donations. Pick your best landing pages and examine what makes them so great. Do you have compelling stories or strong calls to action?

But solely looking at donation totals can be skewed by traffic. Your most popular pages are likely driving more donations largely because they get more visitors. For that reason, it’s important to also look at the Ecommerce Conversion Rate. This rate shows what percentage of visitors landing on a given page end up making a donation. Pages with higher conversion rates are more efficiently convincing website visitors to become donors.

Consider both donation totals and conversion rates together to determine which pages are most effective. Then use what’s working from these landing pages on some of your other popular landing pages to drive up online revenue.

How to Find It

To see what landing pages are leading to the most donations:

  1. Select your Donors advanced segment (outlined above)
  2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages

Traffic Sources Leading to the Most Donations

It can also be beneficial to track which traffic sources are driving the most donations on your website. Maybe you’re getting a lot of traffic from one source (like search), but visitors from another traffic source (like your email newsletters) are ultimately making more donations.

Knowing which traffic sources are driving the most donations can help you determine which ones are working and which ones may need more attention. You can also take what’s working from one traffic source and figure out the best way to apply it to another in order to drive more donations.

How to Find It

To see what traffic sources are leading to the most donations:

  1. Make sure All Visits is selected (instead of your Donors advanced segment)
  2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels

Average Value of a Donor from Each Traffic Source

If you’ve set up Ecommerce tracking, calculating the average value of a donor from each traffic source can help you determine where to focus your energy. If visitors from a specific source tend to donate more on average, it’s likely worth trying to drive more traffic from that source to see if the trend holds.

How to Find It

To calculate the average value of a donor from a specific traffic source:

  1. Select your Donors advanced segment
  2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels
  3. Perform the following calculation for each traffic source:

Revenue / Unique Visitors = Avg. Donor Value for Traffic Source

Remember, you’re calculating the average value of a donor, not a visitor. To calculate the average value of a visitor from a given traffic source, you’ll need to view All Traffic instead of your Donors advanced segment.

Referrals Leading to the Most Donations

A referral is when a visitor comes to your site by clicking a link from another website. This could be in a press release, in an article about one of your events, or in a comment you left on someone’s blog with a link back to your site.

Drilling down into your referrals will show you what sites are worth your time and which ones aren’t producing the results you’d like to see.

How to Find It

To see which referrals are leading to the most donations:

  1. Make sure All Visits is selected
  2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > All Referrals
  3. Click the “Transactions” column header in the Ecommerce section to sort by number of transactions

Popular Pages Prior to Visiting Your Donate Page

There are likely multiple paths a visitor can take to make a donation on your website.  Tracking the page before a visitor comes to your Donate page will show you what pages are resonating with your potential donors.

Some pages (like a Get Involved page) will probably make sense.  But others (like a particularly moving blog post) may surprise you.

Figure out which ones are working. Incorporate whatever you think is working well into other popular pages whenever you can.

How to Find It

To see what pages are popular prior to visiting your Donate page:

  1. Make sure All Visits is selected
  2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  3. In the list of URLs under the Page column, click the URL for your Donate page
  4. Once you only see traffic to your Donate page, click the blue Navigation Summary tab just above the graph
  5. Focus on the Previous Page Path list to see what pages visitors viewed before your Donate page

These Metrics are Just the Beginning

While these five metrics can serve as a good starting point, they really are just the beginning when it comes to figuring out how to propel your nonprofit’s online fundraising forward. Some metrics that are interesting in your situation may not provide much insight to another organization.

Figure out what data will help you tell the story behind your online revenue numbers. Then focus on those pieces of data that matter most to ultimately raising the amount of money you’re raising online.

Are there any metrics that you always focus on when measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising? Anything that doesn’t make sense to you or you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below.

This post was originally published on Network for Good’s NonProfit Marketing Blog.