5 Tips for Analyzing Your Online Fundraising Campaigns

There’s a lot that goes into pulling off great online fundraising campaigns and events – whether they’re in-person, virtual, or hybrid. One aspect that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is campaign analysis.

There are multiple reasons why taking time to analyze your campaign or event is worthwhile:

  • It helps you track how your campaign is doing so you can make adjustments and improvements along the way.
  • It tells you how well the campaign performed against your goals.
  • It puts benchmark data in place that you can use to improve future fundraising campaigns.

So, where do you start? Here are five tips for analyzing your fundraising campaigns:

1. Analyze While the Campaign is Running.

Don’t wait until the fundraising campaign or event is over to begin analyzing it. Review your campaign’s status on a regular (weekly and monthly) basis.

For example, here’s how you might perform analysis and put your findings to work while the campaign is running: If the number of donations in your fundraising campaign or registrations for your gala or golf event are down one week compared with the same point in the previous campaign, then review your communications and send a special message to past donors or participants thanking them for their previous involvement (with personalized content specific to them, if possible) and asking them to get involved again.

BONUS TIP: Before your campaign starts, be sure to think about what metrics are most important to your campaign or event, and set up your online fundraising software to track these metrics so that you have the information you need at your fingertips.

2. Gather Numbers After the Fundraising Campaign or Event.

Once all of your donations are entered, run final reports on the goals and quantitative metrics you set before starting your campaign. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did the campaign/event results compare with the goals you set?
  • Which goals were too low or too high, and why do you think that was the case?
  • How effective were your various marketing efforts?

Look for metrics including total participants and/or donors, total funds raised, number of returning participants and/or donors, and average fundraising per participant and/or donor. Plus, dig deeper to find trends, such as amount raised based on registration or donation date, number of emails sent, and whether someone updated their personal or team fundraising page.

3. Look at Other Success Factors.

The qualitative aspects of a campaign or event are just as important as the numbers. Be sure to listen and respond to feedback throughout the campaign or event. Send a post-campaign survey to various audiences involved to determine:

  • How much staff effort did it take?
  • What did participants, attendees, and donors like/dislike about the campaign or event in the following areas: registering, fundraising, giving, and the campaign/event itself?
  • Were the campaign website and fundraising tools easy for participants, donors, and staff to use?

4. Debrief with Your Fundraising Campaign Team.

Bring together everyone on your staff who was involved with the campaign to review your original campaign goals, discuss campaign results, and consider lessons learned. Be sure to take notes so you’ll have them to look back on as you start work on your next campaign.

5. Put Your Findings to Work to Improve Your Next Fundraising Campaign.

Though charitable giving is at an all-time high today, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your fundraising efforts. So, once you have another campaign under your belt and data to show your results, you can start thinking strategically about your next campaign. Some ideas to consider:

  • If your campaign wasn’t as successful as you’d like, change the timing, messaging, or structure of the campaign.
  • If your campaign met your goals, perhaps in your next campaign your focus should be on making sure you aren’t leaving money on the table.
  • If fundraising was a huge success, your focus next time could be on recruiting more sponsors, attracting more peer-to-peer participants, or attracting more major donors.

Here are some more practical ways to use your campaign data and analysis to improve your future fundraising efforts:

Decide when to start.

Dig into past years’ campaigns or event data to find out what time during the campaign event attendees and/or participants registered or when donors contributed. Consider timing a multichannel approach to coincide with when your biggest supporters and donors typically engage so that you can use their enthusiasm as a point for launching registration or fundraising asks.

Determine where to focus your resources.

When possible, use source codes in your online fundraising efforts so that you can attribute registrants and donors to specific marketing channels. This will help you decide which channels are worth keeping (or which to put more resources toward), and which you should leave behind.

Target your email audience.

Send more personal and targeted emails by segmenting your audiences (for example, non-donors vs. existing donors) and customizing messages based on their interaction with your organization. Use data from previous campaigns or events to add personalized notes to your emails. This approach can help you tap into the loyalty of past donors. For example, look up your previous years’ results, and add a personal note to your emails, such as:

  • “Thank you for [donating/fundraising] $X last year.”
  • “Thank you for being one of our top XX [donors/fundraisers] last year.”
  • “Last year you ran X:XX in our 5K and took Xth place. Are you ready to do it again?”

Make your campaign more compelling.

Organizations often include basic messages about past campaigns in their emails, such as, “Last year, we had X attendees and raised $X.” Take this a step further by adding more compelling data from your past campaign to motivate more people to participate and raise even more funds. For example, “Last year we raised $X million dollars. With that money, we were able to fund XX research grants. So far, those grants have produced XXX hours in the lab, which resulted in X new clinical trials set to launch in Q1 2023.”

Use dynamic asks.

Use your online fundraising and constituent relationship management (CRM) tools to automatically specify ask levels based on each donor’s previous donation level. If a donor previously donated $20, you might start your ask levels for that donor at $20 or even $25. For one that donated $50, you might even bump the ask level up to $60.

Reconsider incentives for peer-to-peer fundraisers.

If you’re running a peer-to-peer event or campaign and offer fundraising incentives or use milestone badges, look up your levels to see how many participants are reaching them. If participants are falling short of your lowest tier, you might want to lower it. Alternatively, adjust your communications to encourage participants to reach their goals. On the other hand, if it seems that too many people are quickly reaching your lowest tier, consider raising it.

Improve the event day experience.

If an event is at the heart of your fundraising campaign, collect and record data from your event day to improve future event day experiences. Did you have a photo booth that was booked solid? If so, consider adding another photo booth next year. Did your post-event silent auction raise significant funds last time? If so, consider adding more auction items this time.

Decide if your campaign or event is still working for you.

Define what success means to your organization, whether it’s the number of participants, fundraising dollars, or net revenue; then review data from your campaigns to ensure you want to continue them. You just might find that it’s time to try a new campaign.

It’s well worth it to take time to analyze your fundraising campaigns. Gathering and studying data, as well as being receptive to feedback from staff and constituents, will go a long way toward making your campaigns and events the best they can be.

For more tips and insights about how to collect, analyze, and use data, read the guide, How to Use Data to Take Your Fundraising to New Heights.

Author: Mark Becker

Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008, providing technical and consultative services to nonprofits of all sizes and types. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits. For more than 20 years, Mark has supported hundreds of nonprofit online fundraising efforts.

Wrapping Up

Read on for more ways to ensure your next online fundraising is successful: