Are you drowning in data?

are you drowning in data?

Cost Per Dollar Raised. Donor Retention Rate. Matching Gift Rate. Social Return on Investment. The list goes on for metrics and measurements that come across your desk as a nonprofit executive on a daily or even hourly basis. No one can deny the importance of data: collecting it, understanding it, and communicating it. But equally important in the fundraising world is the impact of your nonprofit organization that performance data alone simply doesn’t capture.

At first glance, it might seem like fundraisers are receiving two disparate messages: “You must have good data, and lots of it,” versus, “You must have a unique story to tell for successful fundraising campaigns.” So how do we marry these two ideas together cohesively?

Finding metrics that matter

Working with various nonprofit groups over the years has consistently shown us there is a gap in the metrics on performance and activity most nonprofits use regularly. The most important numbers are metrics that show the value brought by a specific organization. Whether writing a grant proposal, annual report, or planning for a capital campaign, it is crucial to show the true economic value of your nonprofit.

In our Organizational Value Proposition® (OVP), we help prove to investors what your nonprofit has accomplished by quantifying the impact you have had. It embodies the true investment concept of ROI, but is based on the broader mission of the nonprofit organization. Instead of using performance metrics or output activities (example: 3000 students graduated from a community college), the metrics in the OVP show the outcomes of this number (example: jobs filled by graduates, disposable income spent in the community by graduates, etc.).

In these examples, by communicating actual data for each output above in terms of outcome or real-world impact, you are able to create a much stronger case for investment. Demonstrating the true value of your outcomes to potential investors will give you the edge needed in today’s competitive funding environment.

Telling your story for success

Now you have the right numbers. But being able to tell the story of your data is the final key to your fundraising success.

What part does your nonprofit play in making these projected outcomes a reality? How do the outcomes relate to each of the investors you are soliciting? Just like the role of a good OVP is to tell the story that makes their community’s data matter, it is the role of the professional fundraiser to tell the story that makes your impact matter to individual funders. 

When done skillfully, the numbers contained within an OVP easily become a compelling, positive story that a funder is willing to invest in to bring to life.

About The Author