5 Metrics Your Development Department Should Be Tracking

Development departments are nothing if not goal-driven. Through their year-round diligence, they help your organization to fund impactful work. But as you work toward that big, huge, ambitious goal, how are you tracking progress?
Considered the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your development team’s  year-end goals. This is a department that is extremely comfortable in the CRM or donor platform universe, but there is even more data to indicate progress in Google Analytics. If you map your fundraising goals against your organization-wide funnel of engagement, you’ll see that there are many actions that someone can take on your site to indicate interest in your organization. And there are plenty of KPIs to track before you think about donations. Here are 5 metrics in Google Analytics your development department should be tracking. Consider these against your potential donor behavior and use them to optimize your fundraising strategy for success.

1. Acquisition

Question this answers: How are donors finding us online?

How to find in Google Analytics: Acquisition → Overview

Where is our traffic coming from? Compare periods of time in Google Analytics and consider this from a year-over-year perspective. Sort your traffic sources by conversion rate, and see which of these sources sends the most traffic and contributes to the highest goal completions. Remember to account for your campaigns, seasonal shifts in giving, and the news cycle (hopefully you’re using annotations in Google Analytics already for this).
From there, ask yourself: How can you prepare for events or seasons that yield higher donations? Look at the sources of the highest conversion rates to find bright spots. The hypothesis for doing more of what works is that,with a bit more energy focused here, you could see an even higher ROI. Plan your fundraising, social, and editorial calendars appropriately.

2. Conversion Rate by Source

Question this answers: Where are potential donors coming from?

How to find in Google Analytics: Acquisition →All Traffic → Source/Medium

Now that we know where our traffic is coming from, which of these sources are driving users to take action on our site overall? Whether that action is an email signup (more on this below), spending more than 5 minutes on our site, or donating, we can map different traffic sources onto the funnel of engagement. Digital advertising? Typically at the top of the funnel and will pull in new users less likely to convert. Email traffic? Subscribers have already bought in to your cause and are more likely to take action. Sort sources by conversion rate (weighted) and focus your marketing efforts on sources with high traffic and moderate conversion rates, or moderate traffic and high conversion rates. Optimize landing pages to make taking action easy, and try to build up traffic from sources that drives donations but just aren’t as popular — for now.

3. Email Signups

Question this answers: How many potential donors are giving us permission to contact them?

How to find in Google Analytics: First, configure as a Goal. Then review in Conversions → Goals → Overview

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any digital marketing strategy for fundraising. This statistic makes sense: If someone signs up for your list, that means they’ve expressed interest in your organization and are therefore more likely to take action on your behalf. If your email signup rate increases, chances are your donations will follow. Your development department should track email signup rate, as well as the sources of these signups, in order to build on bright spots, and then should nurture these relationships as they would with repeat donors.

4. Assisted Conversions

Question this answers: How are our marketing efforts contributing to donations?

How to find in Google Analytics: Conversions → Multi-Channel Funnels → Assisted Conversions

In most cases, you don’t get married on the first date. There are more steps along the way before making that level of commitment.
Assisted conversions track the website version of a courtship. In this section of Google Analytics, you can see all of the interactions users take before converting. Maybe Google Ads or organic traffic don’t lead to immediate donations, but after multiple touchpoints with these sources who originally came to your site via an ad campaign or a piece of content, those users become donors. This is a valuable metric for your development department to track so you can work together to build in minor asks in key pieces of content, nudging users down the funnel of engagement and towards commitment. Check out Top Conversion Paths (which lives in this same section) to see the most popular user journeys for donors — this can help with trendspotting and making data-backed decisions about content and campaigns.

5. Users by Time of Day

Question this answers: When are people coming to our site?

How to find in Google Analytics: Home, then scroll down 2/3  of the page

Depending on their needs, your audience comes to your website at different, relevant times of the day. Most people aren’t searching for great coffee spots at 3pm, but they certainly are at 9am. Similarly, most searches around anxiety happen late at night. Use this tool to ensure that your messaging makes sense based on when users are engaging with it. In terms of donation asks, you can schedule emails to send when people are already most likely to visit your website.  Try testing sends later in the evening (think 7-9pm). When subscribers have been able to unwind a bit after the workday, they may be more willing to donate.
users by time of day
To better understand what donors and potential donors are doing on your website, check out our Google Analytics add-on, Lighthouse by Whole Whale. Want to go deeper with your development department? Check out our ultimate guide to digital fundraising.