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Your Next Essential Fundraising Tool: The Fundraising Fitness Test

December 12, 2017

by Nowshad (Shad) Ali

nowshad aliI have been very fortunate to work for a few organizations where I was able to make a significant difference in their fundraising results. I would say that this was due, in large part, to three key elements:

  1. Improvement in the organization’s fundraising effectiveness;
  2. Enhanced cohesion, productivity and performance of the fundraising team; and
  3. Better assessment and mitigation of risk.

One substantive tool in my arsenal is the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP).

Think of how brilliant you could look as a new director of development, executive director or CEO if you can, with razor sharp precision, illustrate critical data driven patterns for your organization’s:

  • Donor retention rates (new donor retention, repeat donor retention and overall donor retention)
  • Donor gains, losses and net
  • Dollar gains, losses and net
  • Growth in giving ($)
  • Growth in number of donors
  • Donor attrition

You can do all that with the Fundraising Fitness Test  that allows nonprofits to measure and evaluate their fundraising programs against a set of over 100 performance indicators by five donor giving levels. (This was developed by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and its Growth in Giving measurement tools). And, there’s more: you can also use these resources to assess the impact of growth decisions and new strategies on fundraising results based on your historical performance.

Understand that I am talking about being able to provide solid insight BEFORE implementation and testing of growth scenarios with, for example, your major gifts plan, or your direct mail or events plan, and so on. This is what this suite of tools has been able to help me do. And it gets better! I was able to compare our current and anticipated performance using benchmarks developed from real data from 1,000+ organizations.

Today, more than ever, there is increased demand for public accountability, including more transparency and accuracy in public disclosure of fundraising costs. From AFP’s most recent "What Canadian Donors Want Study," four in ten Canadians say that charities overstate how much they spend on the cause or programs they support, and eight in ten Canadians strongly agree it is important for charities to let them know their donation has made a difference. Even more importantly, at least nine in ten Canadians strongly agree that it is important that the charities they support have a clear purpose and mandate; are successful at fulfilling their mandates, and have a strategic plan for how they plan to achieve their objectives.

A particular feature I love about the Fundraising Fitness Test and Growth in Giving reports is that they can show senior staff and board “what if” scenarios that support growth-oriented fundraising strategies—strategies designed to grow the net exponentially by increasing gains and decreasing losses. Based on these reports, fundraising managers can recommend detail-level strategies by gain/loss category for each fundraising activity and help justify growth-oriented fundraising budgets.

The Fundraising Fitness Test is a global tool, and charities around the world can use it. However, to make it even more accurate, we need to get more specific Canadian content. That starts with more Canadian data companies participating in the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and more charities making consistent use of the data. In my view, this will make a substantive and meaningful difference to fundraising effectiveness across our country and positively impact the view Canadians have of the effectiveness of our sector.

Nowshad (Shad) Ali, CFRE, CPVA, CPMA CEQ, TriMetrix is President of On Purpose Leadership Inc. and has over 27 years of experience in fundraising, nonprofit and association management. Find him on Twitter at @onpurposetalk.

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