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It’s that time of year again, when your board chair is asking, “how did fundraising go this year?” Whether you met your goals or fell short, it can be difficult to explain all of the work you did to cultivate your donors, throw events, find new grants, and befriend corporate sponsors. Here are some tips on how you can liven up and improve your board or executive director fundraising report this year and make you and your fundraising team shine – no matter what the circumstances.

1. Measure Your Cost Per Dollar Raised (CPDR)

This is a great way to deflect from exactly how much money you raised and factors in capacity. If your organization only spent $10,000 on all mailing and contractor fees and salaries for a fundraising appeal, and you raised $50,000, that shows a really good CPDR – only 20 cents used to raise a dollar. If your board is upset that you didn’t meet your $75,000 goal, you can show that you just did not have enough funding to make that goal. This could lead to a proactive conversation about increasing your fundraising budget as opposed to a negative conversation about fundraising failure!


Tips to improve your fundraising report


2. Track Your Donor Retention and Increased Gift Rates

It is important to pull in new donors, but it is even more important to retain the ones you already have. You need to track how many donors gave again that gave last year, or in the last two years. And it helps even more to track if they gave less or more. If you can show that a high percentage of your donors gave again and are giving more, you are obviously working diligently to cultivate your donors and report to them. That work is often the most time consuming in your fundraising schedule. Showing your retention rates is the way to report that it paid off!

Also read: 10 Books to Read to Become a Better Fundraiser

3. Track Your New Donor Rate

How many more new donors did you have this year, and at what level of giving did they support you? What percentage of your fundraising effort this year was from new donors? If you can show any growth, you can show that you are succeeding! If you have had limited growth, you might focus on how you are going to strategize in the upcoming year to pull in new donors to increase your overall fundraising.

4. Measure Overall Gifts Secured

A good metric sometimes is an overall number of gifts secured, especially if your gifts are smaller. If you raised $15,000 but from 4,000 different people, it shows that you have a huge base of donor support that you can work with in coming years to segment, grow gifts and expand your base!

5. Donor Contact Frequency Statistics

Track every time you make a donor contact – a call, a meeting, an invitation to an event, etc. Typically speaking, the more contacts you make the happier your donors will be and the more engaged they will be. Showing that you had an average of 5 contacts in a year for each donor will show that you spent a lot of time and effort in cultivation, for example.

6. Number and Type of Appeals or Fundraising Events

How many fundraising events did you have this year? How many appeal emails or letters did you send out? Which ones had the best CPDR or ROI? Show your board that you are conscientiously trying to find the best means of reaching out to donors and raising funding.

Also read: How to Use Email to Simplify Donor Retention – 3 Sample Emails

7. Brand Awareness Rate

An important indicator for the success of fundraising is the attitude people have toward your brand. The better your brand awareness, the more likely people are to give, increase giving, and keep giving in the future. You can use simple tools like Google Analytics to see how many people are visiting your website and looking for information on your organization.  Organizations like BrandWatch take it even further and “listen” to what people are saying about you on social media to analyze awareness and brand quality.

8. Compare Your Fundraising Numbers Only to Yourself

Nonprofits, especially their board members, tend to compare themselves to others. How much money did that other Rotary Club two counties over raise this year? Why didn’t our Gala pull in as much as the Children’s Hospital’s Gala? The reality is that every charity is different, and it is impossible (and unproductive) to compare to others! Compare your metrics to how you did last year, and how you measured up to the goals you set for yourselves at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t matter if you raised as much money as your rival chapter, if you met your goals or had a reasonable reason why you didn’t meet your goals.


Any fundraiser knows that fundraising is much more complex than the bottom line of dollars raised. Make sure your fundraising report  demonstrates all the work that you are doing to improve your organization and make it sustainable, whether you met your goals or not!

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