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What are the indicators of fundraising health

How’s your fundraising going? Are you determining your progress by the amount of money raised? If yes, you may be miscalculating. Here’s why. Fundraising is about more than “just” meeting or exceeding goals. Yes, “meeting goal” is a key indicator, but, if that is the only measure in use you may be in for a surprise. Take a look at where your nonprofit’s money comes from, and consider the following:

  1. What percentage – and what amount – of the funds you receive come from foundations, government grants, individual gifts, earned revenue, online giving, sponsorships or underwriting, interest from endowment, or release of dollars from your reserve fund? Are you comfortable with how the percentages and amounts are spread across revenue sources? Take a close look at where exactly the funds come from within each category.
  2. Are any of these one-time gifts or grants? For example, many nonprofit organizations and institutions have seen an increase in revenue from government sources. Many of these funds are grants from local, state, or federal sources that may not be renewed.
  3. We also recommend looking closely to see if there were any multi-year grants that were awarded all in one year. For example, you may have received $300,000 to be used over a three-year period. If the funds were transmitted at one time, your current year may show great fundraising success, but if you include the $300,000 in your baseline for next year, how will you raise that amount next year?
  4. Look for other “unique” gifts. For example, you can’t count on receiving a bequest, or unsolicited major gift each year. Think MacKenzie Scott and the fantastic, transformational gifts she has been making. If you don’t make adjustments for these unique occurrences, you are setting yourself up for trouble in the coming year, even though it may look as though things are going well right now.

Here are a few other things to consider.

  1. How stable are your fundraising staff, volunteer leadership, and even your CEO? Do you anticipate any turnovers, or will everyone stay with the organization?
  2. How involved is your board with fundraising? If they increase their engagement your fundraising can improve. But if they decrease their involvement your numbers could move in the opposite direction.
  3. What about your pool of current and prospective donors? Is the average size gift increasing or decreasing?
  4. What about your donor attrition rate? This refers to the number of donors who give one year, but don’t give the next and may not ever give again. Do you know how to track this number and compensate for it with your planning?
  5. Are you seeing an increase in unsolicited gifts?

Your ability to analyze these numbers will depend upon your data management system, which is part of your fundraising capacity and infrastructure. Finally, check to see if everyone is aligned with your fundraising goals and what the funds will be used for. If there’s any dissent or lack of understanding, it’s time to add this to your list of things to do! Count more than money when measuring your fundraising health!


Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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