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Donor Participation Project

How to Track Performance and Make a Plan Overcoming Roadblocks

To grow your fundraising, you need to understand your current performance and make an ambitious yet achievable plan. Start by analyzing at least 5-10 years of your own data to see trends in donations, expenses, and return on investment (ROI). Look for obstacles that held you back in the past and determine if they still apply.

Track your key metrics like dollars raised per staff member and ROI (dollars raised per dollar spent).

See if you’re improving over time and how you compare to similar nonprofits. This data builds your case for investment and helps set future goals. While comparing to other groups is helpful, focus mostly on your own historical performance.

Once you understand your performance, forecast future growth.

Ask why you couldn’t continue to improve if given more resources. There are only three real constraints: opportunity (have you tapped all sources?), resources (do you lack funds or staff?), or competence (do you have the skills?). Opportunity and competence constraints can often be overcome. Lack of resources is the most common barrier, so make a plan to obtain them.

Determine how much you need to raise to achieve your mission goals.

Then decide how to obtain resources, whether from your operating budget, endowment, events, or other sources. Taking a small percentage (e.g. 0.3%) of endowment funds each year to invest in advancement is an proven option, with many schools successfully using this model. Show how this investment leads to greater growth in donations and endowment value over time.

With a data-driven case and ambitious plan, you’ll find funders and supporters. Be transparent in reporting ROI and outcomes. While persuading others, focus on facts, not opinions. Let data demonstrate your competence and potential for success if properly resourced.

With funding and alignment, nonprofits can overcome roadblocks by building a high-performance fundraising operation. The key is making an investment in proven strategies for growth. Overall, the path to fundraising success is clear for those willing to track performance, make a plan, and invest in opportunity.

View the full recording of this session in ourĀ Resource Library.

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