Three Performance Mistakes to Avoid within the Nonprofit Sector

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Tracking metrics is about making the seemingly intangible tangible and getting better results. No matter what nonprofit you are working for, there will always be room for improvement within the operations of even the most establish organizations. But as much as we want to continue our growth and impact on the world, it is imperative that we avoid some of the most overarching mistakes that can derail a nonprofit organization.

Below, I have highlighted three of the biggest performance mistakes that can overwhelm and falter your mission in an unproductive way. By identifying these areas, you will be able to improve the logistics and operations of your organization and move forward. Let’s face it, most nonprofit organizations generate a ton of donor data. The most challenging part of it is to analyze it in the most efficient and effective way in order for you and your team to improve upon it year after year.

Over Analyzing and Measuring the Data

Far too often, many organizations and businesses have utilized data as their tactical tool in improving the day-to-day operations to help reach their intended goal. While data does play a necessary part within our lives, collecting, aggregating, and analyzing this information again and again can oftentimes overwhelm your staff and eventually compromise the productivity of change. At a glance, data provides any organization with a holistic view on the performance of a company and of an individual. As much as we can focus specifically on the presented data, we want to make sure that information is utilized in the best possible way. For some people, they may just look at this information as a large amount of meaningless numbers. That right there is a huge red flag. To make sure that your staff understands the data, make sure you provide meaning on what this data stands for. In addition, make sure the data is presented in a way that can be easily translated into goal-oriented objectives. That type of streamline communication of numbers to professional development and goals is something that will help improve analyzing the overall strengths and weaknesses of a group than just having the numbers as a whole. Remember, the more meaningful these numbers are to you, the more important they will be to the rest of the group.

Underutilizing your Data

As stated above, your data can provide a holistic view of where you are in reaching your intended goals. For many organizations, the data can be so much that the information can, in itself, seem useless. In the grand scheme of things, you want to make sure you are utilizing all of the information possible. Similar to measuring the data section above, you want to make sure you are able to break the information down in more meaningful sessions. This will allow you to infuse new energy to unknown numbers and create meaningful tactics in how to best improve the operations within the day.

Do Not Over Think the Data

One of the biggest problems you can do for your employees is to overthink the data. Whether you are trying to create a system or over establishing goals, you want to make sure the data in itself can be tangible and realistic for your staff. That being said, the approach in tracking and analyzing the information needs to be done in a meaningful way. Various steps need to outline the importance of your goals and your individual goals for your staff while also translating that information in how they can impact and improve their own personal performance. If there is no intended meaning for the data, this can lead to uncertainty about the numbers. If the numbers however represent a multitude of concepts, this can lead to overthinking the meaning behind the information. To prevent this, make sure there is some type of clear and precise understanding behind the numbers and the following steps it can do in the future.

Is Your Fundraising on the Right Track?

Man analyzing financial data and charts on computer screen

No matter what industry you are in, internalizing a holistic view on the progress of your cause or your project can give you the necessary strategy for future steps. This type of healthy development requires that style of internal reflection so that you can truly pave the path in reaching your financial goals at a timely manner.

Regardless if you are for-profit or non-profit, having these talks can benefit your cause greatly. For the private sector, this is usually done through quarterly annual reports, which breaks down the overall revenue, expense, and net profit a company attains within a three-month span. For non-profits, this type of analysis varies from organization to organization.

To help non-profits with this dilemma, below, you will find three key questions you and your team will need to ask themselves to see if your company is heading in the right path. If there is any hesitation or uncertainty for any of these questions, then you need to make sure you are able to attack that problem to its fullest. Keep in mind, this is standard in any company or organization. The best thing to do is to look at these gaps as windows for opportunity so that you can improve your logistics for the betterment of your cause.

1. When will you be sending your next donation newsletter? (Who is responsible for that? How will you market why they should donate today?)

For this question, it requires a variety of answers to fully grasp your next strategic moves. When you are looking for donations, there needs to be a way for you to reach out to the public. This can be done through actual newsletters or via email. The key thing is planning deadlines and responsibilities for your team so that you can meet your goals. These deadlines, also known as action steps, will be crucial in reaching future donors for the next up and coming months. In addition, for every newsletter, you want to continue raising awareness of why your cause needs more financial support. Just having the same speech is not enough to make a strong or compelling case to your donors. To get your team running strong, think of compelling reasons of what the funding can do for your cause. Will it be used to hire a new team or will it be used to help fund the equipment? These answers to these questions will give your pitch a stronger essence for your future donors.

2. What is your Donor Retention Rate?

By definition, a donor retention rate is a measure of how many of last year’s donors gave again this year. Donor movement is a fundamental discipline of strong organizations. You must have a plan for moving your donors through the fundraising funnel. In addition, not only are you looking to add to this pool of donors, but you also want to keep those for their contributed support, especially the big ones. Ask yourself a variety of questions such as: How many people from last year donated again? If they did not donate what was their reason? How many of the big donors did not donate this year? What is our future plans to have them donate again? Answering these types of questions will give you a stronger understanding of the people who are supporting your cause. In addition, this information will give you more knowledge on the overall numbers you are attaining in a calendar year.

3. How Many of Your Current Donors Came through Referrals?

At the end of the day, you want to make sure you are knowledgeable of the overall numbers. As much as some sales are done through a your own efforts, many donors come from referrals through current donors, board members, volunteers, and supporters. Make sure you know the number and the people on this list. These are investors who are supporting the growth and development of your cause. In addition, show them how impactful their donations have been to the overarching development of your organization’s goal.