5 Donor Metrics Your Nonprofit Should Track Now


Using data to track performance of your fundraising strategy is crucial to success. If you don’t analyze your donor metrics, it’s like you’re speeding down the highway without a glance at the odometer. Measuring donor metrics helps you gauge the success of your marketing efforts and informs donor segmentation. Many nonprofits treat all donors the same, which undoubtedly results in lost opportunities and inefficiencies.
How do you decide which metrics are important? Don’t worry – Whole Whale compiled a list of five donor metrics to track now. Measure these metrics at year end giving and after a donation campaign. Better yet, keep track of them all year long. Knowing your metrics is the key to understanding your donor base, segmenting your audience, and communicating effectively.

Metric #1: Acquisition

What it is: The number of donors who gave this year that have never given before.
Why you care: This one’s obvious – donor acquisition is necessary for growth. If you’re getting new donors, it means your efforts are working. You’re introducing new people to your organization. Not only that, but the new audience likes you enough to support you. Keep up the good work!

Metric #2: Retention

What it is: The number of donors from last year who gave again this year.
Why you care: Retained donors are extremely valuable. Think of this group as your closest and most dependable friends. Don’t get us wrong, new friends are great, but you know you can count on the people who have stuck with you for years. Retained donors give larger gifts than new donors AND they give more frequently throughout the year. Best of all, they have no acquisition cost. You already have retained donors’ contact info – use it!
Retained donors deserve special attention. Nurture your relationships. Thank repeat donors for their continued support. Show them how they’ve helped you achieve your goals. Make it personal. Keep your donors close, and your retained donors closest.

Metric #3: Reactivation

What it is: The number of donors who previously lapsed but gave again this year.
Why you care: When donors reactivate, they’re giving you a second chance. They may have forgotten you temporarily, but they’re back! Now that reactivated donors are here, don’t let them get away again. Reengage. Thank this group for recommitting themselves. Show them why it wasn’t a mistake. If you manage relationships well, you’ll turn reactivation into retention for years to come.

Online Course

Online Fundraising Essentials

Build a successful online fundraising strategy from the ground up

Metric #4: Upgrade

What it is: Retained donors who gave more this year than last year.
Why you care: When someone gives your org more this year than last year, pat your marketing and fundraising teams on the back. Upgrades often result from explicit requests. Donors are more likely to give more when they’re asked for a specific amount. Don’t be shy. Segment your audience into giving levels to get a feel for each individual’s giving capacity. Then, set a donation ask at an appropriate level above the previous gift. Watch your upgrade rate soar!

Metric #5: Lifetime Donor Value

What it is: The lifetime value attributed to your relationship with a donor
Why you care: Lifetime donor value is an important consideration for marketing decisions. This metric predicts how much you can expect to receive from a donor over the course of their relationship with your organization. When assessing donor acquisition cost, don’t exceed lifetime donor value. If you do, you’re actually losing money on that individual. Lifetime donor value is calculated as donor lifespan times average donation amount times frequency of donation. The higher the lifetime donor value, the more you can spend on acquisition. All donors don’t have the same LTV – avoid treating them like they do.
Get to know your donor base and segment communications accordingly. Keep donor behavior, giving level, and most recent gift in mind. Acknowledge donors’ previous interactions with your organization and make them feel special. Refer to our tips to get people to open your email.
If you develop a fundraising strategy with these five metrics in mind, you’re on track for a well executed and data driven campaign.
Think we missed a crucial metric? Tweet us @WholeWhale or send us a message here.