13 Key Analytics for Nonprofits: Why These Metrics Matter

April 10, 2018

Contact team DNL to learn more.

Your nonprofit knows that effective data management is key to understanding your constituency and building better fundraising and engagement strategies. But before you can capitalize on the information stored in your CRM or other nonprofit software, you need to know exactly what analytics to track in the first place.

With so much data out there, determining which pieces are most meaningful to your organization can be a complex undertaking. Team DNL to the rescue!

In this post, we’ll explore 13 key analytics that all nonprofits can find valuable, no matter your mission, size, or technology setup. Even better? We’ve broken our list into 4 clear categories:

  1. Web analytics
  2. Email analytics
  3. Fundraising and donor analytics
  4. Business and financial analytics

For best results, stick with us for a full look at the most vital nonprofit data in each section!

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive into the data.

Your organization can study different web analytics for nonprofits to improve your online engagement.

Web Analytics for Nonprofits

Your nonprofit website is a major source of online donations as well as other engagement opportunities, from volunteer registrations to digital advocacy actions and much more.

In order to optimize your site to receive the most traffic (and conversions), first pay attention to how your site is currently performing. Consider setting up a free Google Analytics account for your site if you haven’t already so that you can easily access all of the most vital website metrics. Google Analytics is a valuable tool that’s simple to set up and use, even if your nonprofit staff isn’t stocked with tech experts!

Let’s break down some of the most fundamental metrics to track in Google Analytics that any nonprofit can—and should!—keep track of.

(Note: We’ll orient our discussion of website analytics around the features in Google Analytics, but your nonprofit can use a variety of free or paid tools to track these metrics. Work with your web consulting team to find a tool that delivers the most accurate data for your needs!)

1. Website Traffic SourcesUse Google Analytics to find out where your nonprofit website visitors are coming from.

Do you know how people end up on your website? Though it might seem like a simple question, the answers can provide major insight into how you appeal to prospective donors and market your nonprofit.

There are a few main acquisition categories to be aware of within Google Analytics:

  • Organic search. These users land on your site through a search engine like Google or Bing. If you’re seeing a low number of organic search visitors, it’s likely because your nonprofit isn’t showing up for the key terms individuals are searching for. Keep in mind that this channel does not encompass Google Ads (which we’ll cover later!).
  • Referral traffic. These visitors are directed to your site through another website. You should analyze this channel not only to see which external sites are driving the most traffic, but what kind of users they’re sending your way. In the same Analytics view, you can see how long these referral visitors are spending per page and their conversion rate, too, so you can know if they’re valuable prospects.
  • Social traffic. See which social media platforms are driving visitors to your site (and if those visitors are then making a gift or signing up to volunteer) by taking a look at your social traffic. You can even see which specific posts are converting the most visitors, so you can determine which strategies are paying off and which aren’t.

In addition to viewing where your visitors are coming from, it’s equally important to see what pages they’re going to. Within Analytics, you can set up a secondary view based on the page your visitors land on. That way, you can quickly assess which pages are the most popular for users who come through via search, referral pages, or any other channel.

By doing so, you can better understand which pages are already performing well and which may need to be further optimized for search performance or promoted within your network. If key pages aren’t doing well, consider refreshing your site by working with a web development or nonprofit digital marketing team!

2. Average Website Session DurationNonprofits can analyze the amount of time a user spends on their site in order to optimize their pages for higher conversions.

If users are landing on your website and immediately leaving, that can clearly tell you a lot about the quality of your site. But that’s not all that you can learn from this valuable metric!

Take a look at the amount of time spent on your site in comparison to other factors to get a better idea of what’s causing users to stay on your site. For instance, view average site duration in comparison to:

  • Traffic source. Are users from Google spending more time on your page than users who clicked over from a recent news article linking to your nonprofit’s site? Are social media followers really reading your blog content when they click on your Facebook links? This data can help you determine who your most likely prospects really are.
  • Landing page. Are certain pages seeing a high bounce rate (i.e., users who land on the site and immediately leave)? If so, it may be time to revamp certain pieces of content or redirect old pages to more relevant, high-quality pages.
  • Keyword. Are your landing pages answering users’ search queries? If you’re seeing users leaving your page quickly, it may be that your content isn’t as relevant to their search terms as they expected.

The ultimate goal of your site should be to engage users and eventually turn them into donors, volunteers, or other types of supporters. You can’t accomplish that goal if individuals are leaving your site as quickly as they landed on it!

3. Website Conversion Rate Website conversion rate is one of the most important analytics for nonprofits to measure, as it can directly show you how engaging your site is.

Speaking of accomplishing goals, Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring the success of your site in turning prospects into supporters.

Within Google Analytics, you can set up a variety of goals that correspond to different user actions, such as:

  • Completing a donation form.
  • Signing up to volunteer.
  • Registering for an event.
  • Signing a petition.
  • Signing up for your newsletter.
  • Downloading a resource.

Not only can you see how many conversions you’re receiving per goal, you can break out this data even further to see which traffic source is driving the most conversions, the number of pages a user visits within their session before converting, and more.

However, it’s important to remember that Google Analytics doesn’t factor in how many times a user visits your site prior to converting. If you’re looking into which traffic sources or landing pages drive goal completions, keep in mind that those supporters may have originally been driven to your site through a different channel.

For example, a supporter who originally found out about your nonprofit through a shared Facebook post may have visited your site three times before deciding to Google your nonprofit’s name or directly type in your URL and then make a donation. That user would be counted under “organic search” or “direct traffic,” but that doesn’t give any credit to your social media efforts. You’ll need to look at all of your Google Analytics data holistically to get the best understanding of which strategies are working!

4. Google AdWords AnalyticsIf your nonprofit has a Google Grant, analyze your Google AdWords data to measure the success of your campaigns and ads.

If your nonprofit has a Google AdWords Grant, you’re already aware of the different metrics you can (and need to) track as part of a successful Google Grant management strategy.

You can integrate your Google AdWords account with your Google Analytics property in order to see AdWords data in conjunction with all of your other valuable site analytics. Once the two accounts are linked, you’ll be able to view data related to campaigns, sitelinks, search queries, keywords, and much more.

You can learn a lot from your AdWords data, but if you’re just diving into these analytics, we recommend starting with the following metrics:

  • Clicks per campaign.
  • Total cost of each campaign.
  • Cost per click.
  • Percentage of visits leading to goal conversions.
  • Number of pages a user visits on your site after clicking your ad.

If you want to truly optimize your AdWords strategy by leveraging your AdWords data, it’s always best to talk with the experts about how to use these metrics to inform your strategy. A Google Grant consulting team (such as DNL OmniMedia!) can help you dig into this data and make sense of it in order to reap the greatest return on your Google Grant.

Email analytics for nonprofits are a crucial part of a successful marketing and outreach strategy.

Email Analytics For Nonprofits

Email remains as one of the most valuable channels for nonprofit marketing and supporter engagement. In fact, the Global NGO Tech Report states that over 60% of nonprofits regularly send email updates to their supporters. That’s over half of nonprofits worldwide!

To know if your email efforts are paying off, there are a number of performance indicators you can investigate.

Depending on the email marketing platform you use, your team will probably have access to a variety of analytics. We’ll walk through the main data points that can provide insight into how your emails are performing and how you can improve them for better results.

5. Email Open Rate Include your email open rate in your nonprofit data analysis strategy to gain insight into your marketing efforts.

First and foremost, if email subscribers aren’t opening your messages, something in your strategy isn’t working well.

If you’re seeing low open rates (that is, the percentage of users who are receiving your email and opening it), there are simple solutions you can try. First, check your email subject lines. Are they relevant to your nonprofit’s mission? Are they engaging to your subscriber list?

The best subject lines are short and sweet but action-packed so that a recipient is excited to see what else the email has to offer. (Remember: you’re competing with a ton of other content in your readers’ inboxes, so you need to craft subject lines that help you stand out!)

Additionally, you might want to consider looking into your subscriber list. If you haven’t updated your list in some time, comb through it to weed out inactive email addresses or lapsed donors, as these can falsely deflate your open rates.

6. Email Click-Through Rate Measure your nonprofit's email click-through rate as part of your data analysis to see how engaging your emails are.

Though open rates are vital, you know that the end-game of an email marketing campaign isn’t to get a supporter to open your message—it’s to actually engage with it!

Your email click-through rate (CTR) represents the number of individuals who open your email and then click through to the links within it.

To improve this metric, pay attention to the type of content you’re sending and the calls-to-action you’re including. As with many email marketing metrics, segmentation can be key here. You need to know which of your supporters are receiving your messages in order to know which engagement opportunities and content to offer them, so segment your email list and groups to tailor each message to the recipient.

For example, if you know a supporter has donated recently, sending them an email asking them to donate likely won’t help your CTR, and it might even offend your donor! Instead, send them an email advertising an upcoming event or volunteer opportunity, or send them an educational email with a link to a resource related to your cause.

7. Email Conversion Rate Your nonprofit's email conversion rate will show you how effective your email campaigns are for turning recipients into donors, volunteers, or advocates.

Just because a user clicks through from an email to your website, that doesn’t mean they’ll be completing a donation form or taking another online action. To get the most accurate view of how impactful your emails are for your strategies, you should also consider email conversion rate.

As we mentioned previously, goals are an important metric for nonprofits (or any organization) to track. This goes for email analytics too! Using your email provider and Google Analytics, you can see how emails are converting into:

  • Donations.
  • Volunteer-sign ups.
  • Advocacy actions.
  • Event registrations.

You can break this data down granularly to see exactly which email campaign is driving the most completions. By doing so, you’ll get the best picture of how valuable your email marketing strategy is in relation to your fundraising, volunteer, and advocacy efforts.

Fundraising and donor analytics are crucial for nonprofits looking to increase revenue.

Nonprofit Fundraising and Donor Analytics

For nonprofits, fundraising is top priority. If you’re not staying on top of your donor data and how it’s impacting fundraising results, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to grow your revenue (and your impact!).

In this section, we’ll discuss a few different types of donor and fundraising-related data, all of which you can store and analyze within your nonprofit CRM or database. Depending on the capabilities of your software, you may need to add custom fields or configure your software in order to get the most comprehensive look at your fundraising campaigns within your CRM system.

In the market for a donor database that can help you organize and run reports on these metrics? Check out our comparison of what Blackbaud has to offer!

8. Donor Retention Rate One of the most vital analytics for nonprofits, your donor retention rate shows you how many supporters continue to give year-over-year.

Acquiring new donors can be an expensive, time-intensive process. Though you should definitely invest your time and resources into finding and targeting the right new prospects, it’s equally (if not more) important to invest in cultivating relationships with current constituents in order to retain their support over time.

Your donor retention rate can provide insight into how your donor engagement and stewardship strategies are performing. If you’re seeing low retention rates, consider the following questions:

  • How does your nonprofit prioritize ongoing communication with your supporters? Do you communicate with donors via their preferred channel? Do you have a welcome email series in place to get them involved with your organization after their first donation?
  • Does your organization acknowledge donors quickly and genuinely? A thank-you email works well for most gifts, but consider reaching out over the phone for long-time supporters, major donors, or other key individuals.
  • Are you making it easy for donors to give on a regular basis? With the right donation software, you can enable donors to set up a recurring gift on a monthly or yearly basis, all without leaving your donation form. With certain platforms (such as DNL’s custom Luminate Member Center), you can also allow supporters to change their recurring gift settings themselves within their donor profiles.

As you grow your organization, it’s important that you retain long-time supporters. Not only will your commitment to maintaining the donor-nonprofit relationship show them how much you value their contributions, but it will also increase the chances that they deepen their involvement with your organization by upgrading their donation amount, volunteering, sponsoring an event, or advocating on behalf of your cause.

9. Major Gift IndicatorsCertain data can give you insight into important giving opportunities like matching gifts!

Certain data can give you powerful insight into specific donors’ capacity to give. In other words, how much can your donors afford to donate?

You’ll want to be on the lookout for data points like:

  • Wealth markers, meaning financial characteristics like property ownership and stock or securities holdings. Always be on the lookout for the best ways to maximize the benefits of regular wealth screening.
  • Business affiliations, meaning where they work and what professional relationships they have. This is important for identifying additional opportunities to grow their impact, like if their employer offers a corporate philanthropy program.
  • Giving history, meaning how often and how much an individual has given to your nonprofit and to other nonprofits. Analyze what causes they support so that you can better understand who they are and why they give to your organization.

Smaller nonprofits can start by monitoring their database by hand, but as they grow, they’ll need to integrate some smarter tools into the process.

For instance, a donor database can help you identify potential corporate philanthropy applicants, but integrating a matching gift search tool can help your donors find out if they’re eligible for their company’s giving program on their own!

When you take the time to analyze your donors and their capacity to give, you may find some overlooked areas where you can boost your revenue.

10. Donor Demographics Donor demographics are a vital type of nonprofit data that your organization can track in your CRM.

In order to create strategies that appeal to your donors, you need to know who exactly your donors are.

In conjunction with other types of donor data (such as behavior, interests, and geographic data), a donor’s demographic makeup can tell you a lot about who they are and how you should engage with them. To start, you can track all of the following in your CRM:

  • Age.
  • Occupation and employer information.
  • Education level and history.
  • Income level.
  • Family data (i.e., marital status, number of children within their household).

Not only can you look into a particular donor’s demographic information to learn the best ways to appeal to them, but you can also assess demographic trends within your database to discover the best ways to market your organization to new prospects.

For instance, if your database is packed with younger, college-educated donors, you might consider orienting your fundraising campaigns toward initiates that allow for a larger number of small gifts rather than major giving. These individuals may not have as much of a disposable income as their older counterparts (yet!), so they may be more excited to participate in social media-fueled grassroots campaigns or peer-to-peer fundraisers.

11. Online Giving Rate Analyze your nonprofit's online giving rate to determine which donation channels are most popular and profitable.

As more types of fundraising software open up new ways to give, your nonprofit needs to make sure you’re investing in the right tools and optimizing the giving experience to secure the most funds.

Your organization should measure how many gifts are coming in online versus other offline channels (such as direct mail or in-person donations at events). But remember that “online giving” doesn’t end with your online donation form; it’s a broad term that also encompasses channels such as:

  • Mobile giving and text-to-give.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising pages.
  • eCommerce store purchases.
  • A nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
  • Online charity auction bids.
  • An in-person donation kiosk at an event.

And more!

When you can see exactly how many gifts and how much money you’re bringing in through each online channel, you can determine the profitability of each tool and plan out a strategy that leverages the right software for your audience.

Business analytics for nonprofits are important for sustaining and growing your organization over time.

Business and Financial Analytics for Nonprofits

Even though nonprofits don’t operate the same way as for-profit businesses, you still need to be mindful of important business and financial metrics to ensure you’re on track for success as an organization.

Let’s look at two ways that nonprofits can measure their financial sustainability using data.

12. Nonprofit Revenue Reliability Business analytics such as nonprofit revenue reliability can help you assess your financial sustainability.

Just like a business, nonprofits need to have dependable sources of income in order to keep their lights on. That’s what your annual fund is for!

But there’s more to your annual fundraising strategy than just staying in business. Without a clear understanding of where your operational expenses are coming from, you won’t be able to devote your time to more important matters—like fundraising for your cause!

Look into your CRM to assess the status of your annual fund and measure your nonprofit’s revenue reliability year-over-year. You can pull reports on past years’ finances and use predictive analytics to find out answers to important questions like:

  • How much funding can you expect in the form of recurring gifts? Remember that these sustained gifts will need to be unrestricted, so that you can use them for operating expenses rather than specific campaigns.
  • Has your nonprofit had consistent surpluses in the past? If you’ve been inconsistently breaking even or losing money year-over-year, you may need to revamp your annual fundraising strategies or assess your operating budget.
  • What are your key sources of annual fund income each year? Knowing where your funds come from can help you cut back on unnecessary efforts and funnel more resources toward marketing and fundraising strategies that pay off.

Once you have your budget in line, you’ll be better prepared to develop strategies for growing your annual fund so that your nonprofit can take on new campaigns, invest in powerful technology, and have an even greater impact on your community.

Looking for a starting point for taking your annual fund to the next level? Check out DonorSearch’s top annual fundraising strategies!

13. Cost Per Dollar Raised Analyzing our organization's cost per dollar raised can show you how profitable each nonprofit program or campaign is.

One of the simplest (but most important) ways to calculate your organization’s return on investment is analyzing your cost per dollar raised (CPDR).

The math to calculate this metric isn’t hard: simply divide how much your fundraiser or marketing effort cost by the amount it brought in. So for example, if your direct mail appeals cost $100 to send out and resulted in donations totaling $500, your cost per dollar raised would amount to $.20 (a positive ROI!)

Knowing the exact CPDR (as opposed to just eye-balling the numbers to see if you broke even, lost money, or raised money) can help you compare how different fundraising strategies are paying off in the long run.

You probably have a wide variety of efforts that are yielding positive returns, but that doesn’t mean all of those campaigns are equally profitable. You can analyze the CPDR to determine which efforts are worth a higher investment, and which could be cut from your fundraising plan.

Remember, though, that all of these analytics should be taken together, not viewed in isolation! A lower CPDR doesn’t always equate to a smarter strategy, and a higher CPDR can be misleading. (For instance, a fundraising event’s CPDR doesn’t account for volunteer time and labor or proceeds from sponsors.)

The main benefit of this metric is to serve as a guiding reference when analyzing your overall fundraising effectiveness. That way, you don’t end up sinking major resources into efforts that aren’t paying off.

There you have it—a breakdown of some of the most important points to consider when analyzing your nonprofit data.

We’ve covered a lot here, but when it comes to data, there’s always more you could be tracking (and using!) to grow your organization and deepen your relationships with your supporters.

To learn more about nonprofit analytics and how you can leverage technology to get more from your data, check out these resources from Team DNL:

Contact team DNL to learn more.

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