4 Tips for Measuring Outcomes Instead of Activities
June 18, 2014

In more than 20 years of working with nonprofits, I’ve found that one of the most common frustrations is how to make use of limited resources to conduct evaluations that show an organization’s impact and meet grant makers’ expectations. Here are four suggestions to help: 1. Aim at the right outcomes. 2. Use existing research. 3. Consider indirect measurements. 4. Focus on measuring what matters to funders.

Podcast: Looking at Your Donor Database's Leaky Bucket
June 16, 2014

Listen to Russ Reid's Roger Hiyama discuss an important key performance indicator for any fundraiser's donor database, cover ratio, in this excerpt from the Engage Virtual Workshop, "Driving Donations With Data."

Stop Measuring Activities and Start Measuring Outcomes
May 28, 2014

In my 20-plus years working in the nonprofit world, one of the most common mistakes I’ve seen nonprofits make is measuring activities instead of outcomes. I understand why: Measuring activities is easier, and nonprofits have limited time to dedicate to measurement. But measuring activities isn’t going to help nonprofits demonstrate their value and secure more funds.

When groups measure program efforts — teaching, training, negotiating, feeding, researching and so on — they’re measuring activities. Outcomes, on the other hand, are the results of those activities: changed awareness, behavior, condition or status.

The Big 5 in Fundraising Performance Metrics
May 8, 2014

I am a strong believer of prioritization being the key to successful fundraising. There are a ton of metrics we can track, and should track, like email open rates, sign-up rates per hour, one-off cash donations and appeal response rates. But there are five that are simply much more important. Mainly because they are the building blocks for making sensible decisions for the longer term. I call them the Big Five.

The Big Five are Volume, Expenditure, Income, Retention and Return on Investment. Let me explain.

5 Basic Fundraising Performance Metrics to Start Measuring Today
February 20, 2014

Measuring fundraising performance is an important strategic activity. Measuring key fundraising metrics can inform you and your organization of where you’ve been, where you’re at and where you’re going. In addition, measurement of fundraising performance can yield insight into how best to manage, allocate and leverage fundraising resources and efforts. Diligently measuring fundraising performance can uncover the truth behind your fundraising efforts so your organization can invest its resources in the highest return activities, for the lowest cost, that expand your mission and reach.

My 1st 2014 Brain Teaser: I’m in Love With 'Campaign Influence'
January 7, 2014

I'm going to come out of the gate challenging all you marketers and even analysts with a brain teaser. I had to read this whitepaper three times to make sure I understood the formulas correctly — but I'm in love with the concept of "Campaign Influence."

The Tyranny of Success: Nonprofits and Metrics
December 30, 2013

Modern philanthropy famously demands success in the form of tangible, objective, measurably positive outcomes. This demand, in turn, requires nonprofits or those who audit or evaluate them to make sharp distinctions of their work into success and failure. And yet, especially among hard-pressed populations that have always been the peculiar charge of the nonprofit sector, that distinction often is not so clear. What today looks like a success in a few months may turn into a failure, and what today looks like a failure becomes a success.

BBCON: What's Your Conversion Rate?
October 2, 2013

It’s pretty safe to say that every nonprofit wants more donors. As you know, getting more donors is easier said than done. During BBCON, Rosita Bradham, principal consultant at Blackbaud, and Jeffrey Leib, principal consultant at Jeffrey Leib Consulting, took on the issue of taking people who have interacted with your organization once and turning them into subscribers or members.

The presentation was kicked off with common obstacles to turning people into members, including a lack of necessary information, uncooperative staff and a lack of institutional support for promoting memberships.

Benchmarking and Goal Setting: Is Second Best, Best?
August 20, 2013

Recently, I read an article that said “sometimes, second-best makes a better role model.” Two researchers at the University of Warwick in Britain found that looking at “the best of the best, rather than being inspirational, it might just be depressing.

When organizations benchmark how they stack up against peer institutions, invariably they include “aspirational peers” in the mix. Or our CEO’s ask, “Who is excellent at this? What are they doing? How do we compare?” Instead, should we examine the successes of organizations just one or two steps ahead of us?