I am a Fundraising Analytics Nightmare: A Case for Fundraising Fusion

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research

June 20, 2014

ggeeksmallEvery year, I get a call from a great student at my alma mater. I always pledge, and request a pledge card because I want to see what they’re sending out. They also send me an email. I pay all my bills online once a month, so the email gets deleted, the pledge card goes on the pile. At the end of the month, I just type in my school’s website address and click the “give now” button. My alma mater has no idea that this gift was inspired by the phone call.

The days of being able to say “this appeal brought in $X” are gone. Alumni can fulfill pledges through any number of channels, decide to give all by themselves by hitting your websites, and once you add in socially-enabled giving like crowdfunding, it’s not going to get any easier to “track” donors.

Your appeals may have a greater effect than what you are tracking in returned gifts with that appeal code. Here’s an example…

We worked with one school to try to figure out what the effect of being a recipient of multiple channels meant to their phone pledge rate. Mike Brucek looked into their database and found some compelling results.



Receiving appeals on multiple channels had a big effect when we got the donor on the phone.

Should we mail to everyone we phone? Not necessarily.

Should we email everyone we mail and phone? Yes.

Should we get better about considering the total picture of what makes a gift happen? Definitely.

I think it’s important to remember that our fundraising needs to be donor-centered. Rather than lament the fact that alumni are responding in a way we can’t track, we need to get better about looking at the total picture, each “touch” that might have influenced the gift. This is new thinking, is frustrating, and makes return on investment a much more complicated equation.

Fundraising Fusion is your best appeal, and the donors are in the driver’s seat.

Giving is a donor’s job. Figuring out what made it happen is ours.

Brian Gawor, CFRE, is an Associate Vice President in the Fundraising Management Division at RuffaloCODY.  Brian is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on benchmarking and analytics to drive fundraising strategy.

About the Author

Brian Gawor serves as vice president and is a member of the RNL Fundraising Consulting team. Brian’s focus is research and strategy to help propel the results of RNL clients. He also hosts the popular...

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