Running a successful charitable campaign takes time, money, and effort. How do you know if it was a real success? What are the questions you should be asking to determine how effective your campaign was? Woodrow Rosenbaum, CEO of With Intent and data lead for the GivingTuesday team shares his tips for measuring impact.
When it comes to measuring impact, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole chasing data, but having the right questions from the start helps you focus your activity, prepares you for better measurement, and sets you up for success.
In measuring GivingTuesday, we’ve had – and will continue to have – many challenges, but we’ve developed a simple framework that can be used to measure anything from the impact of a fundraising campaign to marketing to programming.
What are your goals?
It’s critical to not only have a goal, but to think about how you’ll measure it. Then structure your activity in a way that you can achieve those goals. We’ve found that having a clear goal is highly correlated with success of GivingTuesday campaigns. Organisations that have a specific, measurable objective were much more likely to report that they exceeded their expectations. In fact, every success measure for the group that had a goal is higher.
Raising a certain amount of money is an obvious goal, but might not be your only goal. GivingTuesday is a unique opportunity to boost things like donor acquisition, re-engagement, and retention. Other goals you may want to work into your campaign include; gaining a certain number of new donors, increasing participation amongst a certain group, or increasing brand awareness. Think about what kind of campaign you’d like to run and which goals make the most sense for your organisation’s needs.
What are the questions you will ask?
At GivingTuesday, the first question we ever sought to answer was “how much was being donated?” From the very beginning, it’s always been clear that GivingTuesday is big. We know there’s a lot of donations happening, but the definition of giving that propels the GivingTuesday movement is not simply about fundraising. There are other questions we need to ask, ones that inform our actual mission to inspire more generosity globally, and to help strengthen global civil society. What can we learn about the impact of other types of generosity aside from donating? How donating and volunteering interact? Does generosity lead to other prosocial behaviours?
One of the key learnings from these questions is that people want to give in lots of ways. The majority of GivingTuesday financial donors also participate in some other way and, however they give, most people choose to take multiple actions when they get involved in the movement. Which means the questions you ask might not just be about the total euros raised. You may also consider:
– Did we gain more new donors during the campaign than at other times of the year?
– Are we engaging young people and in what way?
– How many new volunteers pledged to give time to my cause
– How else did people show their support?
– How many people are making meaningful interactions with our social media posts? And how are we defining ‘meaningful’?
What metrics and indicators might tell you that you’re on track?
Think about what measurements you’re going to use to understand your progress toward that goal and how you will know if you’re on track. It’s easy to get stuck in the metrics before you’ve crafted your question. Your question really helps you focus and understand the right metrics.
Getting to the empirical level of something can be really difficult but it’s not always necessary in order to keep track of your success. Think about shift and lift. Rates of change, shifts in location or type, could be suitable metrics to track progress toward your goal.
In response to the questions above, the metrics for measuring might be:
– Number of new donors vs. last year
– Total number of people giving – consider how your organisation captures demographic information, perhaps during the donation process or with a post-event survey
– Number of new volunteers, ambassadors and other supporters
– Number of pledged acts of kindness – consider capturing with a form on your website, or use a hashtag to get a rough estimation of participation
– Number of comments, shares, or personal stories told
GivingTuesday is decentralised, meaning any type of participation is welcome, which makes it difficult to measure. Things like volunteering, acts of kindness, are inherently challenging to calculate, but if your campaign is easy to measure, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s a mistake to design your programme or campaign tactics in a way that makes it easier to evaluate if those tactics will suppress your growth or put a lid on what’s possible.
If you have your goals, questions, and metrics set up ahead of time, you can design an engagement that can be both effective for your campaign and give you the kind of impact measures you’re looking for. By looking through this lens, you can craft a campaign that gets you to your goal. Whether your objective is more meaningful interactions on social media or obtaining new donors, consider your metrics, then design your campaign in a way that’s going to deliver the data – not because it makes your campaign measurable, but because it’s working toward your goal.
About Woodrow Rosenbaum
As founder and CEO of With Intent, an international consumer marketing agency, Woodrow Rosenbaum has a long history of building top consumer brands. In the nonprofit sector he has conducted research and analysis of individual giving behaviour, engaged with thousands of charities regarding fundraising strategies and trends, and millions of donors on topics related to giving and volunteering through traditional and social media. As the Data Lead for the GivingTuesday team, Woodrow works with dozens of donation processors to evaluate donor behaviours, using his experience in consumer analytics to uncover the levers for increased individual giving.