The title of the article, which reads “Strategies to Build a Culture of Data-Backed Decision-Making.”

Strategies to Build a Culture of Data-Backed Decision-Making

Anyone can see why adding data to the decision-making process is worthwhile. By establishing credibility and unifying collaborators, data informs you to take the next step with confidence, whatever that may be.

However, having data-backed decision-making become second nature in your organization can pose a challenge, especially if you’re unsure of which insights to prioritize. Not to mention, unorganized, missing, or dirty data can stall your progress or lead you down the wrong path.

To strengthen your organization’s informed decision-making, we’ve compiled a list of five strategies you can employ to back your ideas with solid evidence.

1. Lead by example

When your organization’s leaders set an example, the rest of the team will likely follow suit. Start at the top of your organization to explore ways your leadership can set the tone for following evidence-based strategies. A few leadership techniques could include:

  • Setting a regular cadence of reviewing organizational performance metrics to remind teams of what metrics to go after, what healthy results look like, and how to navigate any lacking or surprising results.
  • Sifting through case studies before finalizing decisions to allow previous insights to guide your strategy. This could mean diving into studies your organization has conducted or reviewing relevant ones within your industry.
  • Reviewing evidence-based action plans to ensure you have informed each step of your process with relevant data. For comprehensive action plans, this would mean citing multiple sources and proactively explaining any gaps.
  • Offering data research and presentation best practices from leadership’s expertise. Give tips and strategies for presenting data and research in a way that is both compelling and relevant for your audience.

These strategies should be unique to your company’s needs and objectives. For example, a healthcare organization may set expectations to review the risk adjustment process with new employees so that they understand the workflow and compliance requirements. According to Arcadia, this may mean breaking down each step to accurately suspect, engage, and assess patient needs while maintaining quality standards.

2. Provide data literacy training

While data is a useful tool for decision-making, it can sometimes be tricky to interpret, especially when gathering actionable insights from specific data points. Ensure everyone has the needed level of data literacy training to manage your organization’s data. Explore the following:

  • Hands-on data analysis projects related to team members’ roles, allowing them to explore and analyze data independently.
  • Peer-to-peer learning sessions where team members from various departments can collaborate and share their best practices.
  • External training opportunities, such as workshops or conferences, that provide team members with opportunities to learn more about data analysis.

By offering training and collaboration opportunities, your entire team will be on the same page when approaching various decisions. Additionally, you should avoid sequestering your data science team from the rest of the organization to ensure transparency across the team. Instead, make sure they are heavily involved in explaining any process or system updates and catching any new team members up to speed.

3. Offer secure data access and management

Although the majority of your team could benefit from data-backed decision-making, it’s important to safeguard sensitive information by ensuring it’s only viewed by authorized team members. Offer secure data access and management by employing the following strategies:

  • Leverage integration: Disorganized data lacks both efficiency and security, since it’s difficult to find and may be accessible by unauthorized parties. Convert your data to a digital format and aggregate it into a central location to keep it secure. For example, a healthcare organization might consolidate patient data by leveraging EHR integration.
  • Provide data security training: Set up a series of meetings or an official training program to cover basic security principles with your team. This may include tips on how to create strong passwords, identify phishing scams, and update software. You might also offer hands-on training through simulations to help your team put these tips into practice.
  • Use clear data access controls: Employ strict access controls to ensure only authorized users can access sensitive data. For example, you may use multi-factor authentication (MFA) or biometric authentication to verify a team member’s identity before allowing them access. You can also implement logging and monitoring mechanisms to keep an eye on who accesses this information.

Beyond implementing controls on which team members have access to specific data, you can also protect the organization’s information by determining which data sources are most relevant for certain team members. Consolidating data provides a comprehensive overview of your organization’s most important information.

This way, you’ll be able to build data-backed, team-based workflows so each department can access the data they need without sacrificing security. Just be sure to identify any incomplete or missing data before you finalize any workflows. If needed, request a data append to fill in any gaps.

4. Define clear objectives and KPIs

To reinforce a culture of data-backed decision-making, your organization must build its overall goals around relevant metrics. Double the Donation’s nonprofit marketing guide recommends using the SMART method to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Then, you’ll have a clear plan for how and when you’ll achieve these goals.

Enforce a coordinated effort to leverage data in decision-making by aligning these data-backed goals across departments. A few ways you can do this include:

  • Encouraging collaboration: Enable teams to collaborate on projects by sharing relevant data and insights.
  • Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Develop KPIs for each team that support the organization’s overarching goals. Track them regularly and share progress across the entire team.
  • Implementing data-backed performance reviews: Use KPIs to track team performance and acknowledge team members who go above and beyond.

A collective effort to achieve goals based on actionable data will not just enhance your organization’s culture. Equipped with clear goals and the support needed to accomplish them, your team can work cohesively toward the success of the organization.

5. Provide relevant resources and support

While you may have an organized approach to data collection, you should also leverage relevant resources to simplify decision-making for your team. Consider the following ways you can support data-backed decisions:

  • Leverage knowledge-sharing platforms: Enable team members to access tutorials, case studies, and best practices through internal knowledge-sharing platforms.
  • Use analytics: Allow your whole team to access analytics tools to collect data analysis from various perspectives.
  • Continually improve the process: Regularly evaluate and improve your organization’s data processes and practices. Ask for feedback from team members to determine data needs and address challenges.

An organization’s team can only employ data-backed decision-making when they’re equipped with the right resources and support. In addition to these tools and resources, provide data quality assurance so that team members can work with consistent and reliable information.

An organizational culture that encourages data-backed decision-making benefits not only your organization as a whole but also your individual team members. With enhanced collaboration and greater technical skills, your team will produce better organizational results.

Embrace data to drive innovation and growth relevant to your organization’s objectives, and establish clear expectations for team members to support this strategy. Where possible, explain the importance of data in team members’ roles to transparently implement data-driven processes. Prioritize data across your entire team for better results in every initiative.

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4 Types of Metrics to Track When Accepting In-Kind Donations

Although less flexible than monetary donations, in-kind donations are still valuable to nonprofits for various reasons. For instance, the non-financial nature of these donations may lead to increased generosity, as donors unable to make monetary gifts may be happy to donate items or services instead. Some fundraising organizations even offer the opportunity for your nonprofit to raise funds through the collection of in-kind donations by hosting events like a clothes drive collecting recyclable clothes.

To maximize any donation type, regardless of whether they’re major gifts or matching gifts, you must start with data. In-kind gifts are no exception, as you’ll need to collect information on key metrics to determine the best path toward increasing the support your nonprofit receives. But which data points do you need to track to do so?

In this guide, we’ll cover the four types of data to track when accepting in-kind donations. By collecting and assessing this information, your nonprofit can grow the support it receives and more conveniently fulfill its mission. Let’s dive in!

1. Donor Data

When it comes to securing recurring donations or support, donor data is key. With this information, you can segment your supporters into groups with shared characteristics. This allows you to send out targeted messages that are more likely to secure future support.

Key information you should collect on your in-kind donors include:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Demographics
  • Engagement history
  • Giving history
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Communication preferences

For instance, let’s say that a woman named Sarah drops off canned beans at your nonprofit’s food drive. You have her fill out a form that asks for the information above, and you learn that:

  • Sarah has donated canned food at your nonprofit’s past three food drives.
  • She hasn’t participated in any other in-kind donation drives or made a monetary donation.
  • She prefers to be contacted through email and text.
  • She usually finds out about your food drives through neighborhood flyers.

From this information, you can gather that addressing food insecurity is important to Sarah. You may be able to secure a larger in-kind donation from her in the future if she’s given more time to prepare.

With that in mind, you can group Sarah with other donors who share her views and preferences. Before your next food drive, you’ll send out an email to this group letting them know about your upcoming event and inviting them to donate. By doing so, you’ll secure these donors’ repeated support and may even increase the number of items they donate.

Be sure to store your donor data in a secure location to ensure that their privacy is respected. Kindful recommends using a constituent relationship management (CRM) system for this purpose. A dedicated nonprofit CRM allows you to easily access donor information, segment donors into groups, and send personalized messages requesting support.

2. Donation and Inventory Details

Since in-kind donations are usually goods or services, your nonprofit will want to create an inventory of donated items. This ensures you don’t use your hard-earned funds on an item you already own and helps you keep track of donations for bookkeeping purposes. Keeping an updated inventory is particularly important for any donation that you plan to keep long-term, such as livestreaming equipment, computers, or furniture.

When recording in-kind donations, be sure to include the following information:

  • Description of items or services
  • Estimated value
  • Quality and condition
  • Date of donation
  • Method of delivery, such as a drop-off delivery or pickup by staff members
  • Location

Additionally, depending on the number of in-kind donations you usually receive, you may need volunteer help to process and inventory these items. In that case, you may want to track volunteer metrics as well to ensure that you’re providing a great volunteer experience for your supporters.

3. Marketing Metrics

Donors can only make gifts to your nonprofit if they know that your organization needs support, making marketing a key aspect of your nonprofit’s operations. Therefore, tracking the success of your marketing efforts is crucial to securing future in-kind donations.

To assess the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s marketing, keep an eye on these metrics:

  • Conversion rate. This metric refers to the percentage of users who complete a desired action. In the case of in-kind gifts, this means dropping off a donation, scheduling a donation pickup, or pledging a service. For example, if you have a call-to-action (CTA) on your website to schedule an in-kind donation pickup, you can assess the conversion rate of this CTA to see how effective it is at getting web visitors to click and complete the pickup form.
  • Donor acquisition rate. If you’re hoping to secure new donors through in-kind gifts, the donor acquisition rate is key. To calculate this, you’ll divide the number of first-time donors by the number of all donors. For instance, let’s say you spent the entirety of last month focusing on requests for in-kind gifts. If you had a total of 200 donors and 47 of them were new donors, you’d have an acquisition rate of 23.5%.
  • Engagement metrics. Gauge the interest surrounding in-kind gifts by tracking metrics related to engagement. This includes website traffic, email open rates, and social media engagement on messages that feature in-kind gifts. If you have a lot of engagement with these messages, you’ll know that your supporters are receptive and open to making in-kind donations.
  • Referral sources. To determine which marketing channels are most effective at garnering in-kind donations, track referral sources to your key in-kind donation landing pages. Common referral sources include on-site CTAs, email newsletters, and social media posts.

By examining these data points, you’ll have a better understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing messages, which marketing channels are best for requesting in-kind donations, and how successfully you’re attracting new donors.

4. Donation Impact

Much like with monetary donations, donors want to know how you use their in-kind gifts to positively impact your beneficiaries. By collecting information related to donation impact, you’ll be able to answer their questions and alleviate concerns with quantitative data.

Metrics that you can track for donation impact include:

  • Cost savings. If you’re already tracking the estimated value of in-kind gifts, you can easily translate this metric into your nonprofit’s cost savings. For instance, let’s say that you recently requested donations of livestreaming equipment for your next hybrid event. You could let your donors know that their generous in-kind donations helped you save $5,000 in video equipment, lighting, and microphones.
  • Beneficiaries helped. If you’re collecting in-kind donations to directly give to your nonprofit’s beneficiaries, you can track exactly how many beneficiaries your in-kind donations helped to show your impact. Let’s say your nonprofit’s mission is to aid people experiencing homelessness and you host a clothing drive to collect warm winter clothing. In your thank-you letters, you could mention that your drive allowed you to provide warm clothes to 500 beneficiaries.
  • Environmental impact. According to Donate This Recycle That, in-kind donations of goods are a great way for supporters to recycle and give new life to old items. If your nonprofit deals with environmental issues, let donors know the positive environmental impact of their donations. For example, you can tell supporters that together, they donated over half a ton of clothing, saving these textiles from landfills.

These metrics are especially important when it comes to your donor recognition efforts. In particular, you can feature relevant information in your thank-you messages. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate the impact your donors have on your beneficiaries and show that your organization is trustworthy and deserving of support.

If you’re serious about maximizing the number of in-kind gifts you receive and the impact you create with them, it’s essential that you track these four categories of metrics. To streamline your data collection and analysis, consider looking into a partnership with a data analytics company. These organizations can help you get started and set you up for in-kind donation success!

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How to Move from Spreadsheets to Advanced Nonprofit Tech

When you first start a nonprofit, constituent relationship management (CRM) software likely isn’t your top priority. You’ve got tax forms to file, donors to find, and countless other important steps to take to get your new organization up and running. At the time, using spreadsheets to keep track of data is the simplest solution at your disposal. Once your nonprofit starts to grow, however, you may run into issues.

Spreadsheets can only do so much for a growing nonprofit with hundreds or thousands of supporters to keep track of. Moving to an advanced, scalable CRM allows you to easily house, organize, and analyze all of your data in one place—leading to better insights and more efficient staff.

If you’re ready to move to a system that will increase your organization’s capacity to further its mission, we’ll cover four steps you can take:

  1. Evaluate Your Budget and Choose a CRM
  2. Partner with a Nonprofit Tech Consultant
  3. Organize Your Data for Migration
  4. Train Your Team to Use the New System

Switching to any new technology can feel daunting, especially when there’s valuable data involved. Let’s walk through what you can do to feel prepared for the change.

1. Evaluate Your Budget and Choose a CRM

First, determine your organization’s budget for a CRM. This will require input from your board and leadership team, so be sure to loop them in early on in the process. As you create your budget, don’t forget to account for additional costs beyond the sticker price of the software itself, such as user licenses, consulting services, and implementation costs.

With a clear budget in mind, you can start researching the top fundraising CRMs to find the best fit for your organization. Evaluate options based on factors like:

  • Scalability. How much data can you store in the CRM? Will it be able to easily scale with your nonprofit’s needs?
  • Nonprofit-specific features. Choosing a system that was designed with nonprofits’ needs and goals in mind will provide you with all the most relevant, useful features.
  • Ease of use. If you don’t have tech experts on your team, choosing an intuitive platform that doesn’t require too much customization or training is key.
  • Availability of add-ons and integrations. Do you already have an event platform or marketing automation tool that you use? Check to see if they can integrate with the CRM.

Once you have a shortlist of options, schedule product demos and discuss the pros and cons of each CRM with your team. If you find that you don’t have enough room in your budget to invest in your top choice, Getting Attention suggests seeking out a technology grant from a corporation or foundation to cover some of the costs.

2. Partner with a Nonprofit Tech Consultant

Next, partner with a nonprofit technology consultant who can guide you through the remainder of the implementation and migration processes.

Ideally, you should find a partner who has experience with the CRM you chose in the former step. For example, if you’re interested in moving to Salesforce for Nonprofits, look for an expert who offers specialized Salesforce nonprofit consulting services. That way, they can educate you on exactly how your data needs to be formatted for the move and help you strategically leverage the platform of your choice.

Beyond that, Redpath’s nonprofit CRM implementation guide explains that the right partner can help your organization with every aspect of the process, including:

An infographic illustrating the nonprofit tech consultant services listed in the text below.

  • CRM implementation
  • Functionality testing and fixes
  • Data migration
  • Team training

While guiding you through the implementation process, a qualified consultant can also look at your current data management practices and explain how to use your new system to improve them.

3. Organize Your Data for Migration

The only way to successfully migrate your data from spreadsheets to a CRM is to ensure that your data is formatted consistently and correctly for the new system. 

Spreadsheets can be haphazard and disorganized, with different team members inputting information in different ways. Where one person might only add “yes” or “no” in a column tracking conversations with donor prospects, for example, someone else may leave long comments about what they discussed in each conversation.

Your consultant should be able to help you understand exactly how your data needs to be formatted for the specific CRM you’re implementing, including which fields need to match up and how to verify that everything is organized correctly. But before you reformat your data, it’s your responsibility to ensure that it’s clean and up to date.

Clean up your data now by going through your spreadsheets and removing or updating:

  • Outdated information like old phone numbers, email addresses, or mail addresses.
  • Duplicate data, where the exact same information appears in multiple places.
  • Any information you used to collect but no longer use, such as participant information for a program that ended years ago.

From here, your consultant can make a detailed data migration plan for moving all of the data you’ve identified to your new system and mitigating the risk of data loss. They’ll perform the migration and let you know what your role is in the process.

4. Train Your Team to Use the New System

Finally, work with your consultant to find the best training resources, then schedule training for relevant team members to learn the ropes of your new CRM.

Since you’re moving to an entirely new, more advanced system to house your data, the training process will understandably take time. Be sure to communicate openly with your team throughout implementation and training, and provide them with any additional support they may need to navigate this change.

While you’re devoting time to training, this is also a good time to implement some new policies based on data hygiene best practices to ensure your data stays accurate and usable going forward. This might include adding rules that standardize how team members input data and handle issues that arise. For example, clarify that addresses should always use abbreviations like “St.” and “Ave.” rather than spelling them out.

With a new, advanced CRM at your fingertips, your nonprofit’s team will be better equipped to use fundraising, marketing, and donor data to raise more for your mission. As you start using your new platform, note any features or data analysis strategies that prove especially valuable so your team can keep improving.

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How to Protect Donor Data During Online Fundraising Events

Online fundraising events have revolutionized charitable giving, enabling donors from around the world to contribute to causes they care about with ease. However, these events come with a significant responsibility—protecting sensitive donor data.

There are stringent regulations in place to protect an individual’s privacy online, and failing to secure donor data can result in legal consequences.

In this guide, we’ll explore four strategies for protecting donor data during online fundraising events. Whether you’re hosting a virtual silent auction, walkathon, or gala, these insights will help you take a responsible approach to fundraising and foster trust with your supporters.

Use Secure Platforms

The first step in hosting an online fundraising event is to invest in secure platforms that can facilitate giving while protecting sensitive information. These solutions may include:

  • Event hosting platforms and websites: The platforms and websites hosting online fundraising events are susceptible to various cyber threats. Implement web application firewalls (WAFs) and encryption (HTTPS).
  • Payment processing systems: Payment processing technology is at the heart of online fundraising, handling credit card transactions and other payment methods. It’s crucial to ensure that these systems encrypt data and are PCI-compliant.
  • CRM software: A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system stores sensitive donor information, including contact details and donation history. To protect this data, conduct regular software updates.

Contact your software provider’s customer support team to inquire about their specific security measures. Understanding their security protocols will allow you to assess potential vulnerabilities and make informed decisions about your investment.

Implement Strong Access Controls

Access controls serve to safeguard donor data by regulating who can access, modify, or view sensitive information within your nonprofit’s systems. Take these steps to implement strong access controls:

  • Use strong, unique passwords: Encourage staff to use a password manager to generate and store unique passwords. Additionally, when asking donors to create login information for your event, ask them to create passwords that are difficult to guess by combining upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA): Require donors, as well as your fundraising team, to use two-factor authentication when accessing donation portals or event management systems. This additional layer of security helps prevent unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised.
  • Restrict access: Only authorized personnel, such as administrators and trusted staff members, should have access to donor records. Conduct a thorough audit of your team to identify who requires access. Next, categorize donor data based on sensitivity, assigning appropriate permissions to each user role.

To ensure the continuity of fundraising efforts, establish procedures for emergency access in case of unforeseen circumstances or personnel changes. For example, before hosting an elementary school fundraising event, you might designate all permissions to the principal in the event that the fundraising team is out sick.

Educate Your Team

When it comes to data security, it’s important to ensure that your team understands the importance of safeguarding sensitive data and knows how to prevent breaches. Provide guidance on how to:

  • Avoid phishing. Train staff to recognize phishing attempts, which are often used to steal login credentials or distribute malware. Emphasize the importance of verifying the legitimacy of emails and links, especially those requesting financial information or login details.
  • Maintain data hygiene. Clean and up-to-date data is easier to monitor and analyze for signs of suspicious or unauthorized activity. Implement data hygiene best practices, including removing duplicate, outdated, or inaccurate records, to maintain data accuracy and integrity.

It can also be beneficial to conduct hands-on training sessions for your specific software. School recommends designating a software lead to provide insight into each tool’s security features before and during the event.

Limit Data Collection

During the event, avoid collecting extraneous information that could put donor data at risk or complicate your data management processes. In most cases, you will only need to collect:

  • Contact details: Gather the donor’s contact information, such as email address, mailing address, and phone number. These are essential for sending donation receipts, event updates, and future communications.
  • Payment information: For processing donations, you’ll need the donor’s payment details, such as credit card number, expiration date, and security code. Ensure that you use secure payment processing methods and comply with PCI DSS standards to protect this sensitive information.
  • Donation amount: Record the specific donation amount or contribution made by the donor. This is essential for accurately acknowledging the gift, maintaining financial records, and cultivating relationships with donors.
  • Gift designation: If donors have specific preferences for how their contributions should be used (i.e. for a particular program or project), collect this information to ensure their wishes are honored.

According to NPOInfo, you may also need to collect information about donor communication preferences. Be sure to obtain explicit consent from donors if you plan to use this information for marketing purposes or share it with third parties. This is especially important in regions with strict data privacy regulations.

Remember, protecting donor data is not just a legal requirement; it is a testament to your organization’s integrity. Remain committed to data security before, during, and after hosting a nonprofit event and you will gain the trust of your donor base.

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4 Data-Driven Marketing Tips for Your Niche Business

In today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for the success of any niche business. While traditional marketing strategies may have once sufficed, the digital age demands a more refined and data-driven approach.

In this guide, we’ll delve into four popular data-driven marketing strategies. Whether you own a dog grooming business, flower shop, or dance studio, these insights will help you propel your niche business to new heights.

1. Create Customer Profiles

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is the foundation upon which data-driven marketing is built. Within this comprehensive database, create customer profiles to store and access key information about your target audience.

Creating these profiles can be broken down into three main phases:

  • Collection: Use data appends, website analytics, social media insights, surveys, and past purchase history to collect information about customers, ensuring that it’s properly stored in your CRM. This data should include demographics (age, gender, location), psychographics (interests, values, behaviors), and transactional data (purchase history, frequency).
  • Analysis: Once you’ve collected enough data, analyze it to identify common characteristics and behaviors among your customers. Depending on your marketing goals, you might look for patterns in age, gender, location, interests, purchasing habits, and online behavior.
  • Personification: Use the insights gained from your analysis to create detailed customer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Detail their pain points, goals, and preferred communication channels to serve as a reference point when crafting personalized marketing messages.

Keep in mind that customer profiles are not static; they should evolve as your business and customer base change. Take measures to keep your database clean and update your personas as you gather more information through your marketing efforts.

2. Personalize Outreach

Using the information stored in your customer profiles, segment individuals into distinct groups based on shared characteristics like:

Then, create targeted messages for each segment that address their unique needs and interests. For instance, if you segment customers according to their brand loyalty, you could send first-time customers a welcome email with a special introductory offer, while providing long-term customers with exclusive customer appreciation gifts like discount codes. Doing so will ensure that all customers receive a relevant and engaging experience with your brand.

3. Leverage Omnichannel Marketing

After segmenting customers into well-defined groups, use an omnichannel marketing approach to meet customers on their preferred platforms and provide a unified experience that drives results. Here’s an example of how the omnichannel process could work for a dog daycare business:

  1. A past client searches for pet-sitting services in their area and finds a paid ad from your doggie daycare.
  2. The client clicks through to your site and begins scheduling an appointment. However, they abandon the page before pressing submit.
  3. Using the phone number stored in their customer profile, you send an SMS message to remind them that their registration is incomplete.
  4. The client returns to your site to complete the form and receives an automated confirmation email in return.
  5. You then send an email newsletter inviting them to explore your other services, products, and events.

To streamline the process, invest in marketing automation tools that specifically cater to your niche. For instance, the doggie daycare discussed above might benefit from Gingr’s all-in-one software, as it has built-in tools to help you send personalized messages and track customer interactions.

4. Conduct A/B Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, empowers companies to optimize their marketing efforts by comparing the success rates of different messages. According to NPOInfo, this practice allows you to adapt to changing customer preferences and market dynamics for better results. Take these steps to test the impact of your niche business’s outreach:

  • Identify your variables. Start by identifying the specific elements of your marketing campaign that you want to test. These could include email subject lines, call-to-action buttons, images, or even the layout of a landing page. For example, if you’re running an email marketing campaign, you might want to test two different subject lines to see which one generates a higher open rate.
  • Implement variations. Once you’ve identified the variables to test, create different variations for each element. For instance, if you’re testing email subject lines, create two different subject lines—one for the “A” group and another for the “B” group. Ensure that the variations are distinct and test only one variable at a time to isolate the impact of that change.
  • Monitor the performance. Send the content to two different segments of your audience (Group A and Group B). Monitor the performance of each variation by tracking relevant metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, or engagement.

After collecting enough data, analyze the results to determine which variation performed better. The winning variation should guide your future marketing decisions.

Remember that data-driven marketing is an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid of making changes to your strategies and trying new approaches. With the power of data backing you up, your niche business will be able to make decisions confidently, easily adapt to changing market conditions, and achieve sustainable growth.

In this guide, learn more about how your organization can do a better job at retaining members by effectively using your data.

3 Important Steps for Leveraging Data to Retain Members

Retaining current members costs less than recruiting new ones and saves your staff time and energy. Additionally, a high retention rate shows that people find their membership value in line with the price, which bodes well for enticing new members to join. Overall, retaining members is vital to the long-term success of associations and nonprofits with membership programs—and data plays a key role in this effort.

Collecting data and extracting insights from it helps enhance the member experience and boost member retention. Member preferences and interests differ from organization to organization, so it’s essential to have accurate, up-to-date information that will guide your membership program’s decision-making. Below, we’ll walk you through three ways to make your data work for you.

1. Calculate your member retention rate.

The first step in leveraging your data for member retention is to know what your member retention rate actually is. A retention rate provides a baseline for how well you’re preserving members between renewal periods. It allows you to set a goal for the rate you’d like to achieve or maintain. Future updates show how different approaches impacted your efforts to reach that goal.

This ongoing calculation is important to prioritize for several reasons:

  • Member retention impacts your association’s overall reputation. If you can’t retain members, you don’t benefit from word-of-mouth marketing. Prospective members may come to view your organization as unreliable or unsustainable.
  • Retaining members allows your organization to generate more revenue with fewer expenses. The more members you retain, the less you have to emphasize your resources toward a membership recruitment budget.
  • High membership retention can lead to a higher acquisition rate. When you retain members, they’re more likely to tell their wider network about your association. These peer referrals can make recruitment easier.

Calculating your annual member retention rate is simple. Divide the number of members you currently have by the number of members you had in the previous year on that same date. Multiply the resulting number by 100 to get a percentage.

2. Collect key types of member data.

To start collecting data that will help boost member retention, look at your association’s existing data and identify information gaps. You can add fields to your membership applications, send surveys to existing members, or take notes during member engagements to help fill these gaps.

Using membership software makes keeping track of member data easier. All your information is organized in one place for gleaning crucial insights into your member experience. In particular, here are three data types you can collect to help retain more members.

Member Engagement

To build lasting relationships with members, you need to know when and how much they interact with your benefits and services, such as:

This lets you determine which activities your members prefer. It can also provide insights on the days and times that work best for members.

Event Attendance

Events are an important way to bring members together and engage them with your association. Use your event management tools to track event attendance. You can identify the event types your members value most, including whether they’re virtual, hybrid, or in-person. If you keep throwing monthly happy hours that few members attend, but find that your quarterly online webinars are packed, use that data to adjust your event calendar accordingly.

You can also collect member data through pre-event and post-event surveys. These let you gather feedback directly from attendees and gauge their satisfaction with each event. They’ll appreciate that you’re taking the time to seek their opinions—just make sure you follow through on their suggestions.

Membership Level

If your membership operates as a tiered model, one of your association’s goals likely involves promoting membership upgrades. Organizations with different membership levels should track how many members they have in each and how that number changes from year to year.

This can indicate how appealing each membership level and its associated benefits are to members, letting you make adjustments, as needed. It can also shed light on which member cohorts are most likely to upgrade each year, which can inform how you conduct renewal outreach to these individuals.

3. Implement improvements to retain members.

Your data is only as good as you use it! Once you’ve gathered the information above, it’s time to leverage insights from the data. Use these to improve your membership program in ways that encourage members to renew year after year.

You may want to make a list of the different aspects of your association that you’d like to address, along with notes on the next steps you’ll take for each. Here are a few areas to consider, plus questions that can help you determine next steps:

  • Member onboarding: Do members feel welcomed when they join our association? What frequently asked questions come up that we can better address upfront? Is anything missing from our welcome packet?
  • Member benefits: What benefits do our members use most? How can we better promote or change our underperforming activities? Would investment in learning management software help our members with their goals?
  • Member communications: What forms of communication do our members prefer? Are we checking in with members frequently enough? Is there a social media platform we could better leverage?
  • Member appreciation: Do our members feel appreciated? What are we currently doing each year to thank our members? What is a new event we can try to ensure our members know we value them?
  • Membership website: Is our membership website easy to use? Are there additional resources or discussion boards we should add to our website?

Remember that improving your membership retention strategy should be an ongoing process. The more information you collect, the more equipped you’ll be to make impactful improvements to boost your results.

Use Data to Retain Members and Grow Your Association

Retaining members is key to your membership organization’s growth, as doing so reduces recruitment costs and improves your reputation.

By using member data to inform membership decisions, your association or nonprofit can better communicate with, appeal to, and appreciate your members—three steps critical to retaining members year after year.

The Power of Data: KPIs for Your Nonprofit’s Next Event

Events are a fundamental part of the nonprofit world. Whether they’re raising money, spreading awareness, engaging volunteers, providing education, or giving back to your community, events can be incredibly powerful. However, as nonprofit professionals like you know, events take a lot of time, energy, and money to execute, so you definitely want to do everything you can to ensure success and improve year over year. Collecting and acting upon data during the event planning process is crucial, as is monitoring important metrics that correspond to your nonprofit’s goals by establishing key performance indicators, or KPIs.

Let’s review some common KPIs for nonprofit events in four major categories: attendance, fundraising, marketing, and impact.


Attendance KPIs help you better understand the overall draw of your nonprofit’s events, both among your regular supporters and the general public, and track it year-over-year. It’s also useful to help you compare the response to the various offerings in your nonprofit’s event portfolio and inform decisions about continuing or discontinuing certain events. There are a number of KPIs to track related to event attendance, including:

  • Registration numbers. The sheer number of attendees for each of your events gives you a good idea about where your supporters’ interest lies in terms of event type and format, and where you should invest your time and effort moving forward.
  • RSVP response rate. Track the number of invitations you sent and the number of responses you received, in addition to the actual number of event attendees. This can give you valuable insight into the strategies you employ to invite potential registrants, your ticketing and RSVP process, and price points for registration.
  • Attendee demographics. The demographics you target versus those that actually attend paint a more detailed picture of your donor base for future marketing and donor cultivation purposes. For instance, let’s say you’re organizing a charity golf tournament. If you find that you get the best response from recurring donors or corporate partners, you can aim your future marketing efforts at these groups to boost your turnout.


The majority of nonprofit events are held with fundraising in mind, whether it’s the sole focus or just a component of another effort. To better understand how the fundraising outcomes of each event are affecting your organization’s bottom line, keep these fundraising KPIs in mind:

  • Total funds raised. This is perhaps the easiest metric to track, and helps you determine if you met or surpassed your fundraising goal for the event. Continuing with the golf tournament example, you’ll want to aggregate the dollars raised from golfer registrations, sponsorship sales, on-course games and contests, mulligan sales, raffle tickets, live or silent auction proceeds, and straight up donations to determine your gross funds raised.
  • Donation conversion rate. The donation conversion rate is the number of donations per number of attendees. The more attendees that responded to the ask to make a contribution to your cause, the higher your conversion rate. This metric helps you understand how engaged attendees are in the event and your cause and how you can make better asks during the event.
  • Average donation size. Look at the average size of the donations made during your event to glean whether your development team should focus on stewarding a few major donors or if you should more broadly target many, smaller donors.


Successfully marketing your nonprofit’s event is crucial to its success. Tracking metrics to help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategy lets you grow and scale your event year over year and make improvements to reach even more people. Consider using UTMs in any online marketing, which are a way of tracking where folks come from in online marketing campaigns, and tapping into analytics to get additional data about your marketing efforts. Here are a few marketing KPIs to consider:

  • Social media conversions. Social media has several KPIs you can track, such as post impressions, number of followers, and conversion rate. Impressions and number of followers can indicate how big of an online reach your event marketing has, while conversion rate can tell you how many of your followers feel inspired to take a desired action from your posts.
  • Email open/click-through rates. Email marketing is extremely effective if you can make your messaging compelling and inspire action, which is what your click-through rate measures. These metrics tell you the number of people that opened your and how many people click on your email’s calls-to-action.
  • Registration sources. Look at where folks are coming from to register for your event. Compare paper registration forms to phone calls to online registrations to determine the most effective ways to collect registrations in the future. Consider the time it takes for staff to process registrations and payments through the various methods to determine the most efficient ways moving forward.


The ultimate goal of your nonprofit’s events is to create an impact that furthers your mission, so it’s important to track metrics that show the direct results of the event. These KPIs could include:

  • Tangible outcomes. Determine how the dollars raised from the event will directly impact the populations you serve or the cause you champion. For example, the number of people helped, projects funded, or other specific outcomes achieved. If the event raised money for a specific project or initiative, be sure to share that information with donors so they better understand how their attendance contributed to the impact.
  • Donor retention. Measure how many donors who contributed to the event have continued to support the organization in subsequent months or years. A high donor retention rate indicates a successful event in terms of building long-term donor relationships.
  • Comparative analysis. Compare the event’s performance to previous events or similar initiatives to identify trends and areas of improvement.

How to Monitor KPIs

If collecting and tracking the above KPIs feels overwhelming, not to worry—technology makes it much simpler to monitor KPIs while keeping your data clean and up-to-date. A simple way to start collecting this important information is through feedback and surveys from event participants, donors, and volunteers and pulling information from your CRM or event management platforms.

Look for a powerful software solution that fits your nonprofit’s specific needs. For instance, charity golf tournament organizers should consider using golf tournament management software, like GolfStatus, so they can not only track the most relevant data, but streamline their event management strategies.

No matter what tech tools or software your nonprofit utilizes, ensure you keep data hygiene best practices in mind, such as regularly auditing your records. NXUnite suggests completing your dataset by appending missing information so you always have the best understanding of where you stand.

Final Thoughts

Data is powerful, and when collected and analyzed properly, can tell a story about your nonprofit’s events that sets you up for continued success. If you don’t have software in place to manage your nonprofit’s events, start by researching options tailored to the specific event and how the platform will help you collect and manage data. Next, do a deep dive into data hygiene practices and implement recommendations. Finally, determine a strategy for collecting the important data that inform KPIs that help your nonprofit reach its goals.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to use data to enhance your nonprofit’s website.

How to Use Data to Enhance Your Nonprofit’s Website

Your nonprofit’s website is an essential tool for marketing your mission and pulling in support for your cause. It’s where your supporters learn about your organization, give online gifts, sign up to volunteer, register for your events, and more.

But sometimes it can be difficult to discern exactly how well your website is working to encourage your supporters to take these actions, or even what it is that gets them to visit your site in the first place.

The missing piece to this puzzle? Data, and lots of it—information about who your supporters are, what motivates them, how they journey to your website, and what they do once they’re on it. And learning to harness the power of data can help you in your efforts to enhance your website’s performance and improve it as a marketing and fundraising tool.

In this quick guide, we’ll help you get started tapping into your donor and website analytics data so that you can take your web presence to the next level. Let’s get started.

Gather relevant data about your supporters.

Start by gathering data about your supporters and your website. There are lots of ways you can do this, but you’ll typically need two main tools:

  • Your nonprofit CRM. Your CRM is where your organization stores everything it knows about your donors, volunteers, and other supporters. Use it as a resource for learning about your target audience’s demographics, giving histories, and participation in campaigns, events, and volunteering opportunities. If your CRM is disorganized or your data hasn’t been updated in a while, consider investing in data append services to ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a data collection and analysis tool that gathers information about the people who visit your nonprofit’s website, like what channels they took to get there, what pages they view, and what actions they take. Google Analytics is free to use and even allows you to set and track goals for your website so that you can optimize your digital presence. To learn how to get started with Google Analytics for your website, check out Cornershop Creative’s ultimate guide.

While these are two solid resources to get started with gathering the relevant data you’ll need to improve your website, you can also use:

  • Surveys to find out what your supporters think of your website, including the user experience (UX) and content
  • Performance tracking tools like Google Search Console to track organic search traffic and monitor your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts
  • Email analytics to understand which email content drives traffic to your website
  • Social media insights to see which content gets the most engagement and drives traffic to your website
  • A/B testing to compare different versions of website elements (like your donation page) to see what version performs better

Gathering data from the right tools will allow you to get a holistic view of your website’s target audience and how well your website is accommodating your audience’s wants and needs.

However, as you gather this wealth of information, it may start to feel overwhelming. This is why you need a solid strategy for analyzing your data.

Analyze your data for patterns and trends.

Learning to tease out actionable insights from your supporter and website data can be tricky. But once you unlock the patterns and trends that are in your data, you’ll be equipped to make design choices for your website that will meet your audience’s needs and expectations.

Here are some tips for analyzing your data:

Get a general idea of who your target audience is and what motivates them.

Begin by looking closely at your audience’s demographics (age, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, employment status, etc.) and psychographics (attitudes, values, interests, beliefs, etc.).

Next, examine their engagement history, reviewing past donations, hours volunteered, and events attended. You’ll also want to look at your donors’ communications preferences and how past outreach and marketing efforts have been received.

From there, you should be able to identify in general terms who your supporters are. For example, an animal shelter might determine its supporters are (generally):

  • Women in their twenties and thirties
  • Making $60,000-$80,000 annually
  • Passionate about animal rights, the environment, and outdoor activities
  • Giving to and volunteering with multiple environment- or animal-focused nonprofits each year
  • Donating $250-$500 to the nonprofit each year
  • Apt to engage with the organization the most via text and social media

Create a supporter persona.

Get more specific by creating a supporter persona. A supporter persona is a fictional representation of a real supporter comprised of traits that represent the trends you see in your organization’s data.

For instance, continuing with the example above, the animal shelter’s persona might be “Camille Adams,” a 30-year-old woman who cares about animal rights and the environment and who enjoys hiking and mountain biking. Camille volunteers with a climate advocacy group and gives the animal shelter $300 on an annual basis. She also follows the shelter on Instagram and Twitter and responds well to text-to-give campaigns.

With a supporter persona like this, you have a clear audience member to keep in mind when optimizing your website or creating content. You can ask yourself questions like, “What would they think of this web page?” or “How would they respond to this blog post?”

Examine supporters’ conversion journeys.

Understanding who your supporters are is only half the battle. Next you need to understand how they behave on your website and what it takes for them to complete a desired action, like making a donation, signing up for your newsletter, or registering for an event.

Here are a few tips for analyzing conversion journeys:

  • Look at your website’s traffic sources (such as organic search, social media, email campaigns, etc.).
  • Set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to identify the pages visitors view and engage with before taking an action.
  • Take a close look at how well your content guides visitors through the conversion funnel from awareness to action. This will include looking at the calls-to-action (CTAs) across your website and how you link pages to one another.
  • Identify any parts of your conversion funnel where visitors are prone to dropping off.

As you begin to see what is and isn’t working on your website, take note of the good things you’re already doing that you can apply to any problem areas. Also prioritize the most important fixes. For example, the steep drop-off you’re seeing on your donation page should likely be addressed before you figure out why one of your blog posts isn’t getting as much attention as the others.

Use audience insights to improve your website design.

Now that you’ve discovered the trends and patterns awaiting you in your data, you can begin to make positive changes to the design of your website that will enhance the UX and encourage more of your visitors to use your website to take action for your cause.

Here are some areas to focus on as you make improvements:

  • Navigation. Prioritize smooth and easy navigation. Ensure your navigation menu links to your most important pages and is easy to view and click on no matter what page a visitor lands on.
  • Overall visual look and feel. Your website should have a cohesive look to communicate your organization’s professionalism and help visitors feel they can trust your site. If your brand look needs some defining (or refining!), Kwala recommends building out a brand kit that includes elements like your color palette, typography, and logos.
  • CTAs. CTAs are phrases, often formatted as clickable buttons, that encourage website visitors to take an action. Ensure your CTAs are eye-catching and brief, directing your visitors to your most important action pages.
  • Mobile optimization. Since over 55% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, making sure your website is mobile-friendly is a must. Ensure that your web design will adjust to fit multiple screen sizes and that buttons are thumb-friendly. You should also compress any large files, like images, that could slow down your load speed.
  • Accessibility. Ensure that people of all abilities can access your website. Review the Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines and follow best practices such as ensuring that your website can be navigated by keyboard, images include alternative text (alt text), and text and background colors provide a high contrast for readability.

After making initial changes to your website, monitor your progress using Google Analytics and make adjustments as needed. You can even set goals for seeing improvements in things like event sign-ups or online donations and establish metrics that you’ll track to see your progress toward those goals.

For your own site to join the ranks of the best nonprofit websites out there, you need data on your side. When you understand who your supporters are and what they need from your website, you’ll be able to make enhancements to your website that lead to more support.

Revisit your data often and practice good data hygiene to continue gaining useful insights about your community. And, to take your website to the next level, consider leaving the design work to nonprofit web design experts. You can do this!

In this guide, you'll learn six ways to measure your nonprofit's fundraising success as it relates to silent auction events.

6 Ways to Measure Your Silent Auction’s Fundraising Success

When your nonprofit hosts a silent auction fundraising event, most of the planning process is typically focused on logistical details and procuring auction items. After all, your supporters are more likely to attend a well-organized event that features prizes they’re excited to bid on!

However, there are two other critical steps in planning a successful silent auction that are sometimes overlooked. The first is taking the time to set specific, achievable goals for your fundraiser, and the second is determining how you’ll know if you reached those goals after the event ends.

There are a variety of objectives you could be working toward as you plan your fundraiser, and each of them will be best measured by a different metric. In this guide, we’ll look at six popular metrics nonprofits use to evaluate their silent auction’s fundraising success, including:

  1. Return on Investment (ROI)
  2. Items Sold
  3. Donor Acquisition Rate
  4. Donor Retention Rate
  5. Marketing Conversions
  6. Participant Satisfaction

Applying any or all of these metrics to your nonprofit’s silent auctions will help you identify what you did well, where there is room for improvement, and how you can adjust your strategy as you plan future auctions. Let’s dive in!

1. Return on Investment (ROI)

One of the easiest metrics to calculate from your silent auction fundraising data is the total amount raised from ticket sales, winning bids, financial sponsorships, and additional donations made during the event. However, this doesn’t take into account the upfront expenses that tend to be associated with auctions—venue rentals, fundraising software payments, marketing materials, any prizes that your organization purchased rather than receiving as in-kind donations, and more.

Return on investment (ROI) is a more holistic metric that considers both the revenue your nonprofit generates from your silent auction and the expenses you incurred while planning it. You can calculate it using the following equation:

ROI = [(Total Amount Raised – Total Costs) / Total Costs] x 100

If your ROI is negative, it means that your auction cost more money than it raised, and you’ll need to find ways to reduce your expenses when planning future events. On the other hand, a positive ROI means your auction was financially successful. Ideally, you’d want your ROI to be a larger positive number, as this would indicate that you raised significantly more money than you spent.

2. Items Sold

At an auction, the items are the star of the show. Plus, procurement is often the most time-consuming and resource-intensive part of the planning process. So, it makes sense to include metrics related to the sale of your silent auction items when evaluating your fundraising success.

Review the completed bid sheets from your event to calculate the following item-related metrics:

  • Sell-through rate. This is simply the percentage of items that sold at your silent auction. For instance, if you had 100 prizes up for auction and 95 of them were purchased by participants, your sell-through rate would be 95%.
  • Average bid amount. Determine this number by adding up all of your supporters’ winning bids, then divide by the number of items sold. This metric demonstrates how valuable participants perceived your items to be.
  • Number of items that sold at or above their fair market value (FMV). Winspire defines FMV as “[an auction] item’s worth relative to what supporters would pay if they purchased it elsewhere.” Since participants often choose to purchase items at auction because they’re hoping for a discount they couldn’t get otherwise, any prizes that sell at or above their FMV are particularly appealing to your supporter base.

Knowing this information about the items that sold at your silent auction can help you hone the procurement process for future auctions—you can make sure to find items that your supporters are interested in and perceive as high-value to maximize your ROI.

3. Donor Acquisition Rate

In the context of a silent auction, donor acquisition rate refers to the percentage of participants who engaged with your nonprofit for the first time by attending your event. If 200 people participated in your silent auction and 80 of them were first-time supporters of your organization, your donor acquisition rate would be 40%.

Auctions are particularly effective for attracting new supporters because while some participants will sign up specifically to contribute to your nonprofit, others just want to purchase one-of-a-kind items that also happen to support a good cause. Make sure to follow up with these new donors after your auction to encourage them to learn more about your mission and stay involved with your organization.

4. Donor Retention Rate

Donor acquisition and retention are complementary to one another. Acquisition allows your organization to engage more community members and plan for growth, and retention helps you cultivate lasting relationships with supporters and sustainably fund your mission.

The most common way to calculate donor retention rates in the context of silent auctions is to determine the percentage of participants from a previous auction that also attended your most recent one. For example, if 75 of the 150 supporters who participated in last year’s silent auction came to this year’s event as well, your donor retention rate would be 50%.

5. Marketing Conversions

Leveraging multiple print and digital marketing channels is essential for attracting as many participants to your silent auction as possible. After the event, conversion data can help you determine which methods were most effective for generating registrations.

Track the number of auction signups from each of the following promotion channels:

  • Direct mail invitations
  • Email marketing messages
  • Your nonprofit’s various social media accounts
  • Google Search Ads
  • Redirections to your event registration form from other pages on your website

Understanding which methods compel the most supporters to register can help you allocate your marketing budget more effectively in the future. For instance, if you find that direct mail had the lowest conversion rate of any channel and social media generated the most signups, you may decide to reduce your spending on mailed invitations and instead put that money toward paid ads on Instagram and Facebook for your next auction.

6. Participant Satisfaction

Participant satisfaction is a less objective measurement than the other fundraising success metrics discussed above. However, it’s still important to consider when evaluating your silent auction. After all, a major purpose of nonprofit events is to bring your community together around a cause, and learning what supporters thought about your auction can tell you whether you did this effectively.

Post-event surveys are one of the best ways to track participant satisfaction. MemberClicks’ guide to event feedback surveys recommends referencing your auction check-in list to ensure you get feedback from actual participants and incentivizing survey completion by entering respondents’ names into a drawing for a gift card or branded merchandise. Additionally, include both multiple-choice and open-ended questions on your survey to encourage supporters to share their honest opinions.

The metrics your nonprofit will find most useful will depend on the primary goal of your silent auction. If the main objective is revenue generation, your ROI and item-related data analysis will tell you how successful your event was. Marketing conversions are the most important metrics if your goal is to spread awareness about your organization. And measuring donor acquisition, retention, and satisfaction is essential if you’re focused on supporter engagement.

No matter how you plan to measure your silent auction’s success, make sure to store all of your event data in one place so it’s easier to analyze and evaluate. Happy fundraising!

This article discusses three data categories to consider when planning your school’s auction.

How to Use Previous Auction Data to Inform Your Strategy

If you’ve held an auction before, you know the importance of data collection. From large nonprofit auction galas to online school auctions, data is the secret weapon for unlocking success. And, with new auction software that includes data reporting and visualization tools, your school can easily inform your auction strategy with past data.

But, what type of data should your school analyze? To save your team time sifting through data points, we’ve provided a list of three types of auction-related data to prioritize:

If you’re new to collecting data, know that it takes the guesswork associated with campaign planning out of the way, so you can see what’s really driving your fundraising performance. To get the most accurate information for your school’s upcoming auction, pay special attention to your most recent data and prioritize keeping recent, high-impact donor data clean and relevant.

That said, let’s explore how data can inform your auction planning approach.

Audience Data

How well do you know your bidders? With audience data, your school should be able to access a full picture of your community and supporters. Start by analyzing your attendees from previous years, paying close attention to the following categories:

  • Demographics: Discover your target audience’s average age, gender, geographic location, and family status. Accessing this information will give you insight into how to best communicate your marketing efforts. For example, you might note that families in your community with preschool age children come to your auctions less frequently. To help these families, you might explore options for making your auction more family-oriented, such as hosting it earlier in the day or partnering with the local high school to offer babysitting services.
  • Previous engagement: Look into your audience’s previous event attendance and volunteer status to get an idea of their familiarity with your school. As most of your guests will likely be the parents and family members of your students, consider how you can show off a different side of your school, such as by asking the school jazz band to perform or using student art projects as decorations.
  • Donation history: To set optimal fundraising goals, research your audience’s frequency and recency of donations. Additionally, pinpoint their average donation amount to set reasonable fundraising expectations. Schools can also take their community’s average tax bracket into account to ensure they set reasonable prices for auction items.
  • Interests and hobbies: What sort of activities or events does your audience enjoy? Use social media appending services to understand what types of auction items would appeal to your supporters. You can also get your students to help as kids often like to share what they know about their parents’ hobbies and interests.

Understanding your key audience data can be extremely helpful for making tricky auction decisions. For instance, a quick look at your audience preferences could provide insight into which items are worth procuring and which ones might be best to re-evaluate for the coming years.

Auction Item Data

Analyze auction item data to discover bidding trends and find out which items generated the most interest, bidding activity, and profitability. Doing this will help your school set an effective pricing strategy and avoid procuring historically low-performing auction items. advises taking special note of these pricing metrics from previous years’ bidding process:

  • Starting bids: In addition to researching market value, your school should take note of the starting bid amounts that generated interest and adjust your beginning price points accordingly.
  • Minimum bid increments: Typically, bid increments are set at 10% or 15% of an item’s fair market value (FMV), but if a similar item from last year performed better than expected, you might consider lowering the increment to closer to 10% FMV for this year’s auction to incite competitive bidding.
  • Buy-it-now data: For particularly high-value items like a weekend getaway you might offer a buy-it-now option. Buy-it-now options can ensure you will receive at least a certain high amount for these prizes. However, keep in mind that a bidding war may drive up the price even beyond your buy-it-now option. Refer to your past data to see how these types of items performed and whether a buy-it-now option has the potential to earn your school more.

Prior to your event, arrange a time to meet in person as a group with your high-impact school donors. List out auction items that your school is considering procuring and ask them which ones are most appealing or if they have any other suggestions. Thank supporters for their time and recommendations. Then update your item data with their choices.

Campaign Data

When planning your organization’s campaign, refer to the above audience and auction item data as well as previous campaign benchmarks. From there, you can create an actionable communication strategy to get school families excited about your auction.

Investigate which platforms parents most often use and adjust your strategy accordingly. For instance, many schools have a primary Facebook page that lists school-wide updates or a weekly email newsletter. Double the Donation’s guide to digital marketing suggests monitoring these channels as you launch your campaign to discover which ones are most effective.

Make adjustments as necessary to find the most efficient way to reach and engage your school community. If your email open rates are low, for instance, experiment with your subject lines to find catchier, more urgent phrases that better capture the value of your upcoming auction.

Data is the key to informing your auction planning process. Reference previous audience, auction items, and campaign data points to discover your baseline metrics. From there, you can supplement your data with new insights to refine your strategy.

Remember to also track data throughout your campaign, so that you can rely on it for upcoming campaigns. You’ve got this!