How to measure online fundraising success

Online fundraising has become increasingly popular over the past decade. The ever-changing nature of the World Wide Web offers up new and exciting opportunities to reach potential donors. But as websites, social media sites and email marketing seek to increase the number of completed online donation forms, nonprofits are faced with measuring and improving upon past success. The Internet can be useful, but only if utilized correctly. The main way for organizations to know if they have the proper strategy is to measure their fundraising results.

Defining success
What is fundraising success? The NonProfit Technology Network suggested that it is defined as a positive impact, but that this definition means something different for each organization. It's important to determine what progress and growth means to a nonprofit and start measuring results as early as possible. NTEN says determining goals for the coming year and creating a calendar of when to look at benchmarks is a great start. Once a process is in place, diving into data on a handful of variables is the next step. The following categories are the most important to measure starting out:

1. Email fundraising
Starting with measuring the basics: click​-thru rates, open rates and responses. These will show how well the email performed and if recipients responded to it. Building the proper message, using the right visuals and crafting copy are all part of the emailing process and the aforementioned numbers will help gauge their impact. Overall, look at how much revenue was gained from the emails, such as how much money people gave when they clicked the message to the donation form.

2. Social media impact
Whether the nonprofit is using few or many social platforms to raise awareness and increase donations, it's important to look at how many people are interacting and engaged. Each platform will have different data, as well. Good Facebook stats are profile views, "Likes," comments on statuses or photos and the amount of shares per post. Twitter is slightly different, but the idea is the same with stats on re-tweets, comments and other interactions. These numbers be tell how much of an impact the nonprofit has on its community online. 

3. Offline efforts
Offline efforts have a big impact on Internet marketing strategies. Measure direct mail, in-person fundraising, event attendance and other efforts that impact online donations to make a comprehensive benchmark study.

There are quite a few elements that go into fundraising to the masses on the Internet, but consistent and informed improvements help nonprofits move forward everyday. Promoting a cause and increasing donations isn't easy, but more information will always help make the process more effective.

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