Measure the Magic

I was asked by a fundraiser the other day – about what do you measure now?

They pointed out that for some areas of fundraising, such as corporate fundraising, you can be fairly confident that if you get x meetings in, that leads to y prospects and down the line you will fundraise some money. So you focus on measuring (and so encouraging) those activities and the money will come (rather than focus on measuring the money and hope it will come).

Of course with response driven fundraising the measure was easy. How can we get a bigger response, or target more people? But all that’s changed.  It is no longer about the response – that’s so short sighted. And the danger is it’s the wrong measure. As attention is now scarce – because everyone is now a channel – its harder to get that response. So if you fixate on the response then you start to encourage the wrong kind behaviour of needing to ask more or ramp up the volume and ask stronger.  And you remain blinkered about the wider impact and consequences. Well we used to be.

What do we measure now?

First work out what it is you want to do and then figure out the measures. As measures change behaviour you need to measure what you want to do too. So having figured what it is you want to do, start measuring it straight away rather than park it to do later. Asking people to do new stuff but measure them the same old way is a recipe for either no change or confusion ‘… er I need to do this but I’m still been measured to do that’.

Here is what I would do if I were you.

Measure your WHY

As anyone who as followed my blogs you’ll know I advocate that a key starting point is knowing your mission or why (see Wake up to reality!). That’s because you need a consistent story for everyone to tell (now everyone is a channel). Having set your sight on an impossible dream or mission you need to get someone working out how do you know you are working towards it? Your outputs and impact.

This probably isn’t going to be someone in Fundraising to measure progress against your mission, but the great thing about this sort of measure is you can begin to put it to good use for your fundraising. As it starts to take shape you can look at equating inputs (income) to outputs and impact that measure progress on your mission. Then you can move away from classic response driven fundraising your ‘£y could pay for …‘, (which lets face it it rarely does), to more of a ‘for every £x we receive this is what we can do’ (output), or better still ‘for every £x we receive this is what we achieve’ (impact).

Measure your WHO

As interrupt style marketing is less effective (now everyone is a channel) you now need to build your audience (an ‘audience’ are people who have your attention). So what’s your audience? And many do you have the attention of? Of those whose attention you have, how many are you currently engaging (you could define ‘currently’ by a period of time such as quarterly)? Engaged means busy, occupied, or taken. So what could you do more of to engage your audience? Which suggests to me you need to get to know them. As you get to know them begin building profiles of those who support you.  Then you can ask ‘who else has the attention of these types of people?‘, to help you reach them and so get their attention. Make a list of the top organisations, and the top influential individuals, who share your beliefs and measure progress at getting their attention and engaging them. Chances their customers and followers will share your beliefs too.

Now what % of those whose attention you have, and that you successfully engaged, are supporting you in some capacity?

Measure your SHARE

Of those that you engage how many are sharing your story? People posting or tweeting about you, blogging about you, or better still simply talking about you and your story? To their network your story is stronger coming from them, than from you.  Are they helping you get the attention of people who believe in what you believe i.e. supporting the above measure? How can you increase the numbers sharing your story? And if you have found your WHY, your story should be about solving a problem which needs a lot more money (so a fundraising proposition built in). Are people talking about the donor care you gave because you blew them away with a hand signed thank you card?  Which brings us to …

Measure the EXPERIENCE

What do donors think of your giving experience? If they had to leave a Trip Advisor style comment what would they say? If they had to give you Amazon stars how many would they give? Why not simply ask them and measure the experience you give? Ask them why they gave to you too – it adds to the experience by reminding them and you’ll learn more about your WHO. Great donor care is no longer a nice thing to do it is totally strategic (which is why some in the commercial world are obsessed by this).


Now your response is what matters. If someone takes the trouble to email or call you have their attention. And remember attention is now scarce so you need to value it. It’s precious. And the time you have their attention is when they press send on the email or make that call. So how long does take you to respond to an info@ email?  Days? Hours? How many callers wishing to give or support you can be dealt with by the person who picks up the phone (or at the very least the next person they are passed to)? How many abandon trying to give a donation online?

And then finally …

Measure the magic

One Hundred Dollar Bills In A Magic Hat with Wand

Every time something unexpected happens log it.  A corporate that calls you to say they have selected you to benefit from their fundraising because they were recommended by a member of staff. A trust that invites you to apply for a grant. A new donor who heard about you via a friend who supports you. A legacy from someone who isn’t on your database. A company who wants to help deliver on your mission above and beyond contributing money. The number of unsolicited donations this week. Share these stories each month/week – it will help you realise how frequent they become, how connected your fundraising can be, and that you can make magic happen from people spreading your mission story.

Of course there will be people who are spreading your story you don’t hear about. But once you lay down the first measures you have a bench mark (if you can measure before you start make changes so you can really gauge the progress you are making). It’s not about absolute measures it’s about relative measures – are you engaging more people than before? Are more people talking about you than this time last year? How can we increase these metrics? And of course learn as you go as we are in a new game now the rules have changed.

The purpose of these measures is to ensure you are doing more of what you now need to do to go in the right direction.

These are the new measures that matter.

One thought on “Measure the Magic

  1. Pingback: Fundraising Friday | October 20, 2017 | Pamela Grow

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