A very personal post about…fundraising metrics?!

As a longtime fundraiser, I like to make sure I put my money where my mouth is.

I donate to a lot of charities, in all sorts of ways – monthly, online, by mail, at events, on the street, at my door, by text, at the grocery store checkout – you name it, and I’ve given it!

One of the biggest personal commitments I’ve made is including several different charities in my will.

My partner and I have chosen not to have children, and while we’re not wealthy folks, we both want to leave a legacy to continue helping make the world a more just and equitable place once we’re gone.

As someone who’s involved with a lot of nonprofits, you can imagine what my inbox and social feeds looked like last week - between Giving Tuesday, and the onset of the December year-end giving season, it was absolute CHAOS!

I was asked for small online gifts, invited to events, told about countless matching gifts, sold holiday cards, and – last but not least – occasionally thanked for my support.

But not one of them acknowledged that I’ve pledged one of the greatest gifts of all – a gift in my will (and yes, they’ve all been informed – though most of them appear to have forgotten).

On top of this, not a single organization acknowledged my monthly donations.

(Bear with me, we’re finally getting to the fundraising metrics part!)

My experience last week has raised a lot of questions for me:

When are we going to commit to properly measuring the impact of our fundraising efforts?

Why don’t we pay more attention to the long-term return on investment (ROI) of different types of giving, as well as the immense value of improving our donor care, and then invest our time and resources accordingly?

How do we get our sector to the place where everyone understands the importance of opportunity cost in fundraising – especially for smaller and mid-sized shops?

I ask these questions as a fundraiser and advocate for our sector. But perhaps more importantly, I also ask as a despondent donor, teetering on the verge of removing these great causes from my will, because none of the organizations I’ve included actually seem to care.

All choices have an opportunity cost.

Unless you have unlimited time and resources, every hour your organization spends on selling me a holiday card is likely an hour you aren’t using to build a meaningful relationship with me as a bequest pledger and monthly donor.

If you have the capacity to do both well, that’s great – keep it up, and kudos to you!

But if your organization made the choice to spend more resources on crafting a Giving Tuesday social campaign than caring for the dedicated donors you already have, it might be time to start measuring the true, long term ROI of your fundraising efforts, and adjusting your time and resources accordingly.

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