What's a Little Guy to Do?
There's a lot more you should calculate, but this is the bare minimum. After all, it's hard to know what to fix if you don't figure out the symptoms.
In the spirit of thanksgiving to you for reading this column, for the next seven days you can download the simple spreadsheet I've developed to calculate attrition and some other key stats. It's not fancy, but it works. And it's free. Download it by going to my website and click on "Resources" on the left side. Then click on the nice big prompt.
Know what others are doing
Right now is the time to invest in 2014 by giving year-end donations to successful nonprofits you want to emulate in the new year. While you won't benefit from copying their mail and e-mail, you will benefit from reviewing it and learning from it. Also pay attention to their receipting processes, their online and offline communications, and their use of newsletters. What should you be incorporating?
Another opportunity is to subscribe to Who's Mailing What! Yes, it costs money. But I strongly advocate that quality tools that help us raise more money are worth investing in. Spend wisely and 2014 may be your best fundraising year ever.
Know your donors
January is a good time to invite your supporters to complete a short survey. A few well-thought-out questions can help you talk to them effectively the remaining 11 months of the year. Avoid slanted questions like, "Do you think we send you too much mail?" Instead, ask what kinds of articles they most enjoy in your newsletter and how often they view the video clips you include in your e-mail, for example.
Also, spend a few hours for a few days answering calls from donors or reading their letters and e-mails if you don't regularly do that. Raw, unfiltered feedback can give you insights that reading summary reports will never provide.