Your year-end giving campaign has ended, and we can all collectively take a deep breath. But before moving on, it’s important to answer two questions. How did it go? And why?

I don’t need to explain to you the value that comes from analyzing past fundraising campaigns and using those insights to inform future campaigns. However, seeing the value of such a report and working through the data are two very different things.

So let’s take a look at how to answer the question everyone’s been asking you this month, “Was your year-end giving campaign successful?”.

Look at Your Campaign Goals

Ideally, before beginning your appeal, you set some goals for your campaign around things like the amount of money you wanted to raise, the number of donors you wanted to reach, and where you expected them to come from. And, hopefully, you based those numbers on past campaigns, adding a little ambition while taking into account the current state of the world.

Did you reach your goals?

Start your analysis by answering this question, and you’ll likely find yourself on the right path to gathering insightful information for your next year-end giving campaign. If you did not meet your goals, why not? And if you did, what got you there and how can you capitalize on it more next time around?

If you neglected to set goals last year, don’t fret. You can still analyze your campaign by comparing it to data from previous years.

Year-End Giving Campaign Metrics to Analyze

On a base level, you’ll want to look at fundraising metrics that are important to your organization, along with key metrics from the marketing pieces that made up your campaign. Likely, that means some combination of the following.

  • Total amount raised – How much did you raise overall through the campaign? Consider factoring in the total campaign cost to this number.
  • Number of donors – To dig in a bit deeper, look into the number of new donors, returning donors, lapsed donors and your donor retention rate.
  • Average donation amount – Small, medium and large averages can all make successful campaigns, but each requires a different set of marketing and fundraising approaches.
  • Donor acquisition cost – This is a key metric for balancing your expenses and making the most of a campaign budget. 
  • Number of visits to the campaign Donate page – Look at other key web pages that you sent people to through your campaign, too.
  • Donation page conversion rate – The number of online donations will be factored into this number as well.
  • Website traffic sources – What marketing component sent them to your website to give or engage with a piece of campaign content? Social media? An email?

Other Marketing Metrics

And speaking of marketing components, look into the key success metrics for each one. Did you try anything new with this campaign? Look at that aspect more closely to determine if you’ll keep it around for next year.

  • Email clicks and opens for campaign emails
  • Social media engagement on posts related to the campaign
  • Website pop-up impressions and clicks

For any surprising metrics, either in a good way or a not so good way, dig into the “why” behind the number if you’re able to with the data you can access. For example, you might find that you were more successful at attracting donors from Facebook when using a video post. Next year, you can plan ahead to make more video content.

Get the Reporting Sheet

To help you keep track of your goals and results, we pulled together a year-end fundraising reporting sheet with helpful metrics to start with and the ability to customize based on what’s important to your organization. It’s broken up by measurements to track for this campaign and those to track annually and includes definitions and formulas for each metric.

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Adjusting Based on Results

There’s no need to put together a robust analysis if you’re not planning on doing anything with it. (Please don’t take that as an excuse to forget 2020 and move on! You should absolutely take what you can from the year and make next year’s campaign even better with a strategy rooted in data.)

Looking at the pieces of your plan that did not perform as well as you’d hoped, brainstorm ways to correct those shortcomings in next year’s campaign. It’s entirely possible that something out of your control threw a wrench in things, but I advise against chalking everything up to that. There are helpful nuggets and improvements to take away from any fundraising campaign — no matter the circumstances.

To demonstrate how you might adjust a campaign based on previous results, let’s work through a few examples.

Example #1: More social media traffic than expected

Reports showed people spending more time on social media throughout 2020, and there’s a good chance that includes your audience of supporters. If you saw more traffic coming to your website and especially to content related to your year-end campaign on your website, start brainstorming ways that you can continue to capitalize on that traffic throughout 2021 and beyond.

For example, you might work a few of these ideas into your 2021 fundraising strategies as a result.

  • Post more often on social media channels that drive the most traffic
  • Review the most popular posts from the campaign and replicate elements of those posts through future campaigns
  • Dedicate time to engage with supporters directly on those platforms by liking and responding to comments and posts that you’re tagged in
  • Start a social media ambassador program to expand your reach on social media

This can go for any success you see in your analysis. Take advantage of what works for your audience and listen when they tell you how they want to hear from you.

Example #2: A poor conversion rate on the Donate page

You hate to see it. But if your Donate page’s conversion rate saw a dip or remained stagnant when compared to last year’s campaign, it’s important to take stock now so that the downward trend doesn’t continue with the next campaign. Typically, a poor conversion rate on a page indicates an issue with the page content or design. Or your campaign’s landing page is not inspiring supporters to give.

To improve that conversion rate, you can try a few different things.

  • If you used your standard Donate page as a landing page for your campaign, experiment with a custom landing page specifically tailored to year-end giving
  • Add a powerful story to the page with a quote or video
  • Create a public fundraising goal for the campaign and use a fundraising thermometer to drive action
  • Focus on optimizing your donation process from start to finish

When part of your strategy performs poorly or sticks to the status quo, there’s almost always something that you can try to turn things around with the next campaign. But that can only happen if you’re consistent about checking in on results and taking defined steps to improve them the next time around.