Tracking Engagement, Gathering Data, & Putting the Data to Work

Monday, December 30, 2019

Have you ever heard the saying “what gets tracked, gets measured?”  I like to add my own spin to and say that “what gets tracked, gets measured. What gets measured, gets results!”  When nonprofits begin focusing on donor engagement, they have to take into account that their engagement plan must include gathering and tracking data, as well as how to put it to work to make educated decisions.


Before we jump into how to track engagement, let's take a look at what makes up each component of a donor “profile” or a 360 view of how they are currently engaging with your organization.  These components include biographical and contact information, donation history, events attended versus the ones they were invited to, volunteer hours and communication history.  Ask yourself, how are you keeping this information? Are you consistent?  If you don’t have a donor management system, something I would suggest is investing in a tool like Charityproud to help you keep good and consistent records on your supporters.  Besides keeping complete and consistent records on your supporters, you can take it a step further and collect other information, such as satisfaction and interest surveys, that helps to make data-informed decisions on everything from communication to marketing strategies. 


So, what do you with this data?

  1. Look for the naturally occurring groups that emerge such as major gift prospects, volunteers that have never made a monetary donation and irregular donors.
  2. Conduct a communication audit and research the communications to these groups, as well as review how you are communicating overall with your supporters.
  3. Develop a strategy for each of these groups.  Examples include developing a cultivation cycle that naturally sets your major gift prospects up for a large ask or creating an action plan for reengaging lapsed donors.
  4. Make a list of the items that you wish to measure your performance on and get them down on paper.  These are known as KPIs or key performance indicators.  Some KPIs include donor retention rates and conversion rates from prospects to committed donors.
  5. Think about developing an engagement score system that helps you quickly identify how engaged your supporters are and adding that to your list of KPIs.  A bonus to a donor management system like Charityproud is that there is already an engagement scoring system built-in.


After you review your data and develop your KPIs, your next step should be to establish what your baseline is for your KPIs and develop SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) on how you would like to move the needle forward in the right direction.  Get the right people on your team in developing these goals and share them with your Board.  The more that you communicate them, the more accountable you will be to others in achieving them.

Written by Jessica Cooper, Client Account Manager