Data-Driven Fundraiser

The Data-Driven Fundraiser’s Reference Guide

A Handy Collection of Terms, Definitions and Calculations

Written By: Zach Shefska

Table of Contents

Beginners Introduction to Data-Driven Fundraising

What is data-driven fundraising? Before we can even begin to think about sharing six weeks worth of content on the subject, we need to know what our key phrase means.

Fundraising Metrics 101

Here are 10 key metrics to keep tabs on. These will be useful when questions do arise, and in my experience, they are some of the most helpful numbers on which to concentrate your efforts.

Diving in with Donor Acquisition Cost

In this section of the guide, we explore how to calculate donor acquisition cost, what it is used for, and some best practices for leveraging it in your organization.

Measuring Fundraising ROI with Donor Lifetime Value

Donor lifetime value answers the question, “From start to finish, how much revenue will a donor contribute to your organization?” And in this section of the guide we walk you through how to calculate your organization’s LTV.

Beyond the Basics with Donor Retention

We’ll confirm what you already know about the importance of retention, learn how to calculate your retention rates and discuss some of the ways you can benchmark your retention performance against your peers.

Applying Concepts with Direct Mail Metrics

After reading this section you will feel more confident in your ability to produce data-driven fundraising campaigns, and measure their effectiveness in both the short and long-term. We’ve covered a lot leading up to this final section of the guide, and this is the part that ties everything together.

Wait, what is this?

The internet is filled with all sorts of stuff. Articles, blogs, eBooks, webinars – the list goes on and on. Google search “fundraising guide” and you’re greeted with approximately 45 million results to choose from.

Finding information that is relevant and applicable in a timely fashion is a skill-set. My hope is that this series, the Data-Driven Fundraiser’s Reference Guide, will become a resource that you can simply bookmark. No searching needed.

For the past few months our team here at fundraisingreportcard.com has been working on distilling all the information surrounding “data-driven” fundraising. Churn, lifetime value, donor acquisition cost — you name it, we researched it, defined it, and determined whether it’s super relevant for you this year. The concepts of data-driven fundraising are at the core of our analytics tool, so we thought it might be important to read everything we could on the subject.

All of that hard work has culminated in something that is hopefully useful for the fundraising community at-large. Today we are launching part 1 of 6 in our Data-Driven Fundraiser’s Reference Guide. For the next six weeks we will highlight the most pertinent information you need to know to be a more data-driven fundraiser.

We’ve tried our best to collaborate with others in the field and cut through the noise. This guide is long, but you should find that it is “actionable” — we trimmed out a lot of “fluff.”

Here is what you can expect:

  • Stories from nonprofits that have implemented data-driven behavior
  • Case studies from consultants who have had success with data-driven initiatives
  • PDF cheat sheets to go along with every topic (1 for each of the 6 weeks)
  • And, a refined and distilled perspective on data-driven fundraising

Without babbling on for too much longer, I think we should dive in. But, before we do, I should mention that if you’re interested in receiving email updates as new parts of the series are released you should fill out this small form:

We’ll never send you spam, and you can always unsubscribe at any time.

Okay, that’s enough of an intro. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Beginners Introduction to Data-Driven Fundraising

What is data-driven fundraising? Before we can even begin to think about sharing six weeks worth of content on the subject, we need to know what our key phrase means.

Fundraising Metrics 101

Here are 10 key metrics to keep tabs on. These will be useful when questions do arise, and in my experience, they are some of the most helpful numbers on which to concentrate your efforts.

Diving in with Donor Acquisition Cost

In this section of the guide, we explore how to calculate donor acquisition cost, what it is used for, and some best practices for leveraging it in your organization.

Measuring Fundraising ROI with Donor Lifetime Value

Donor lifetime value answers the question, “From start to finish, how much revenue will a donor contribute to your organization?” And in this section of the guide we walk you through how to calculate your organization’s LTV.

Beyond the Basics with Donor Retention

We’ll confirm what you already know about the importance of retention, learn how to calculate your retention rates and discuss some of the ways you can benchmark your retention performance against your peers.

Applying Concepts with Direct Mail Metrics

After reading this section you will feel more confident in your ability to produce data-driven fundraising campaigns, and measure their effectiveness in both the short and long-term. We’ve covered a lot leading up to this final section of the guide, and this is the part that ties everything together.


Take me to part 1

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