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Top Metrics for Measuring Nonprofit Marketing Success

Donors want to hear about the story of your nonprofit, its beneficiaries, and its work. In fact, 42% of donors indicate that stories from beneficiaries influenced their decision to donate. The best way to tell your organization’s story is through cohesive, effective marketing campaigns—but how can you know that your campaigns are having the impact you intended?

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the top metrics you’ll need to track to accurately assess your marketing campaign’s success, whether your goals are to boost donor acquisition, grow your social media following, or drive revenue. Let’s get started!

Why Analyzing Marketing Data Is Important

As GivingDNA’s guide to data analytics for nonprofits explains, tracking your organization’s metrics involves “collecting data and analyzing it to uncover trends, patterns, and insights that will help guide fundraising strategies.” In other words, you’ll understand your donors and each campaign’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to create a roadmap to marketing success.

Tracking and analyzing your marketing metrics is a critically important step, since it allows you to:

  • Get a 360-degree view of your marketing efforts. Use your data to follow donor journeys, see which strategies are most effective, identify gaps that lead to abandoned donation forms, and more.
  • Refine your strategy to enhance campaign outcomes. By tracking progress during the campaign, you can alter your approach to yield better end results.
  • Establish benchmarks. This will help you accurately predict the results of future campaigns.
  • Efficiently allocate resources. For example, spend more on the channels that generate the most conversions.

As you collect this data, remember to effectively manage your donors’ information. Integrate your technology to eliminate data silos and house all information on one platform. Additionally, protect any sensitive donor data, such as payment information, by limiting access to your database, leveraging data encryption, and requiring two-factor authentication to log into the software.

4 Types of Marketing Data

There are many different types of key performance indicators (KPIs) that your nonprofit may choose to track to gauge its progress. Select these metrics based on your goals for the campaign and which communication channels you’re using. For example, if your goal is to increase donations, it’s more important to focus on conversion metrics and total fundraising dollars than social media follows.

Here are four common types of KPIs to help you get started:

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics indicate how and when users interacted with your campaign. They reveal how well-aligned your content is with the audience’s interests and preferences.

This category can encompass many different metrics across a variety of communication channels, but some common examples include:

  • Click-through rate, which indicates whether a supporter clicked on the link in your marketing messages. For example, if you use digital donation cards, you would track the number of clicks from the card to your donation form.
  • Time spent on page, which reveals how long a user engages with the campaign landing page after clicking through. The longer they spend, the more interested they are in your content.
  • Donation form abandonment rate, which shows what percentage of those who click through to your form abandoned the page before completing their donation. Ideally, this metric should be as low as possible to indicate that most of your supporters are donating once they land on the page.

Your nonprofit should carefully track these metrics as soon as your campaign launches. Just remember that high engagement does not always equate to more conversions (e.g., donating).

Audience Metrics

These metrics demonstrate who is interacting with your marketing messages and how far your campaign is spreading. Some of the key metrics related to your audience will include:

  • Reach, which refers to the total number of unique users who were exposed to your campaign in some way.
  • Frequency indicates how many times those users see your ad. For example, each person might see a post an average of three times, making your frequency three.
  • Impressions denote the number of times your campaign was displayed. Impressions are typically higher than reach because one user could have multiple impressions. If you reach 10 users and have a frequency of three, impressions would equal 300.

Tracking demographic data such as the user’s age, gender, location, occupation, and other socioeconomic factors can also be helpful, especially if your campaign taps into new audiences. Learning about these new audiences can help you cultivate deeper relationships with them by tailoring your communications from the very first thank-you message or welcome email.

Platform-Specific Metrics

While some marketing metrics are relatively general—or even considered to be universal across all communication channels—some are hyper-specific to certain platforms. As more digital and social media platforms are established, this list will likely grow.

For example, the following digital platforms each have unique metrics you’ll need to understand and analyze to chart your campaign’s performance:

  • Social media: Most social media platforms measure engagement through metrics like views, likes, comments, shares, saves, and follows. Some have unique actions that count toward engagement—think of TikTok’s Stitch feature or reposting on X (formerly Twitter).
  • Email: Measure your email campaign’s performance with metrics like delivery and open rates to see how many of your messages reach their intended recipients.
  • Website: See how many visitors your site receives from your campaign, as well as the quality of those visitors. Monitor total website traffic, number of sessions, page views, time spent on page, bounce rate, and more.

Additionally, confirm that your organization is tracking data from its fundraising tools. This important information can sometimes fall through the cracks, particularly if you’re using a more niche tool like silent auction software or a gift card fundraiser platform.

Conversion Metrics

A conversion happens when a user interacts with your campaign and takes the intended next action. The way you measure the number of conversions depends on your campaign’s goal. For example, a user might convert by:

  • Donating
  • Subscribing to your email newsletter or direct mail list
  • Following your social media accounts
  • Purchasing merchandise to support your mission
  • Joining your sustainer program
  • Apply to be a volunteer

Your conversion rate is then calculated by dividing the total number of conversions that occurred during the campaign by the number of clicks or visits to your website. Aim to boost conversions as much as you can, but don’t stress about reaching an unattainable number. For instance, the average online donation conversion rate for nonprofits in 2023 was 16% for desktop users and 10% for mobile. Using these figures as a benchmark, you can determine what’s feasible for your nonprofit and start there.

Remember that data insights will only be as accurate as the file you’re pulling them from. This is why it’s so important to practice data hygiene and ensure that your data attribution is correct and up-to-date. A nonprofit marketing agency can help you analyze, understand, and protect the quality of your data to promote continuous improvements and take your campaigns to the next level.