How to Measure Nonprofit Engagement and Growth

“We run ads and post on social media, but no one’s interested in our nonprofit.”

That was what one nonprofit director said to me in a recent conversation.

My response was this: “How do you measure interest?”

That’s a question few nonprofits consider. Sometimes we have this notion that if we “do fundraising activities,” the donations will come in. But there is a journey that donors take, and “interest” can look like a lot of different things.

How do you gauge interest or engagement from your potential donors? This person was looking for suggestions of new events or campaigns to try.

But before you start trying new things, make sure you have a way of measuring if it’s working or not. Otherwise you can do a lot of new things and add more to your workload, but still not get more donations.

When I look at the health of a nonprofit, I typically measure the growth and success in 3 key areas: web traffic, email list, and donations. Are they growing, stagnant, or declining?


How to Track Your Nonprofit’s Engagement

There are a lot of stats you can measure, but to get a quick overview, I go to these 3 main areas.

First, look at web traffic. How many people are visiting your site? Web traffic helps measure your exposure and brand awareness. When people visit your website, they learn more about you and have options to take action, whether it’s subscribing, volunteering, or donating. If your web traffic is low, that’s the first thing you need to work on.

Other sub metrics within web traffic that can give you a better idea of your audience’s interest level include time on page, pages per visit, and bounce rate.

Next, examine your email list. Your email list helps measure your audience engagement. When people subscribe to your email list, they’re taking interest in what your nonprofit is doing and want to get updated. Email also provides a critical way for you to connect with your audience and present opportunities to donate, because people aren’t going to remember your nonprofit in their day-to-day.

Is your email list growing? Are people opening, reading, and taking action on those emails? Metrics to keep an eye on include open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate.

Finally, your donations help measure the sustainability of your organization. But there’s more than just the total amount. Other metrics can help determine the health of your donor base. Look at the number of donations and donors – are you getting more people? Look at the average donation amount – are people giving more generously? Are you getting new first-time donors and recurring donors?

Don’t just guess at how your organization is doing. Look at the data and know for sure.


Planning Out Nonprofit Engagement

When you plan out marketing and fundraising activities, there might be an expectation of more donations, but there’s a disconnect between how those activities translate into donations.

When you do something, what response do you expect to get? How will that lead someone to donate?

That’s why it’s important to know all the key aspects of a donor’s journey and measure those different points. You can then have realistic expectations as to how a certain activity is going to increase donor engagement.

Make plans based on data, not guesses. If you have a lot of web traffic, but realize your email list is small, you could then make specific marketing plans tailored to getting more email subscribers.

Don’t plan out marketing activities because they’re new, popular, fun, or look like they’re useful. Plan based on what specific engagement goals you want accomplished.

Before you even think about marketing activities, look at your existing data for audience engagement and revenue. What needs to grow? How much time, staffing, and resources are you willing to pour into it?

Make sure you know the outcome you’re expecting and what it will cost. Otherwise you’re just wasting time and “playing marketing.”

For help on understanding your engagement metrics and planning out appropriate and effective marketing campaigns, connect with me for a free discovery call.

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