Every nonprofit that relies on fundraising in order to create operational plans needs to stop getting hung up on the presentation of data and begin looking under the hood of the reporting that accompanies a well-planned fundraising event.

If the biggest challenge following an event is insufficient reporting data, then it is certainly time to look at other vendors with best in class platforms. In reality, however, many organizations obtain tons of data, but simply do not use it well or the final product has flaws in the presentation.

Three Important Questions

  •  Is the fundraiser appeal doing better or worse than expected?
  • What modifications can be made to the language in your appeal, making it more concise and productive?
  • Did your organization offer enough detail in its communication in the appeal?

Reporting Format

Organizations must first understand the difference between financial reporting and fundraising reporting. Often times, different departments within the organization are unable to speak the same reporting language which means that reporting formats must be established in advance so that each department will benefit from the data that was gathered and then presented. The organization’s accounting software is most useful to quantify your annual fund, but falls short of a well-structured donation CRM to ensure that you are qualifying the revenue being received.

Visualizing Data

 Visualizing the raw data can enhance how department heads process it, and there are many strategies for presenting graphs and charts in a robust and colorful manner. Visualization of the data is important and being able to understand what it represents and the story being told is even more important.

The ultimate goal of the visualization of data is to understand the story about how your fundraising activities are affecting the fund’s goal. Who didn’t pledge this year versus who did last year, what percentage of the pledges can be expected this year versus last year, and was there a specific difference between this year’s appeal to previous years?

Pie charts, graphs, and flow sheets, project data in a way that helps the organization understand the results of the campaign, but the most important exercise is the questions that should be asked in advance of the campaign and whether the resulting data can be useful in answering those questions.

Effect of the Data

 For the data returned from a campaign to be effective, the organization must implement the findings, whether good or bad and then implement the changes necessary to improve results. Results are not categorized as good or bad, but sufficient or insufficient. The sufficiency should be applied to each of the most important questions to recognize whether changes should be contemplated.

  • Was the appeal of the fundraiser (call to action) successful compared to other campaigns and if not, what about the appeal was insufficient?
  • Was the language in the appeal clear, concise, and motivating or should the language be modified and if so, in what fashion?
  • Did the language in the appeal, offer enough information so that an informed decision could be made and if not, what changes should be implemented?

The difficulty of fundraising is that it is a science based on feelings. Although the resulting data that is collected is hard fact, the data itself is the result of the feelings of the respondent. Campaigns can be managed more effectively by using best in class platforms such as those offered by COGRAN Systems. Do some research to take advantage of the technology available.