Friday, March 27, 2015

So you have a plan....can you report it?

Or at least the plan to plan your plan.  What are your major efforts?  You can view it by approach - mail, phone, email, social media/web, personal visit.  You can view it by program - Senior gift, Employee campaign, Alumni participation, Leadership giving, Parent program, Reunion class gifts, Volunteer/Class Agent.  You can view it by audience - alumni, students, parents, employees, friends, boosters.  No matter which you choose, and likely it will be at least somewhat of a mix of all, you are going to face resource allocation and prioritization challenges.

One of the key functions of having a plan is the audit of expenses to return that you will need in order to prioritize where you spend the assets that you have to put in play.  In order to do so, you need some reporting on the past.  For the few lucky enough to have a great database and helpful Information Systems coworkers, this is easy.  For the rest of us, it is a matter of identifying what we want and then creating ways to collect that information.

The reports that I consider crucial are; direct mail tracking, phone program contacts, donor loyalty and campaign tracking.  Notice that I have omitted overall results.  While I am not discounting the obvious value of and need to know, progress toward top line goals, those are likely being tracked and monitored elsewhere.  As a result, you often won't have much ability to change or affect those and they rarely tell much of the tale of your efforts at the program level anyhow.

Mail tracking is simple and clear - record the counts, costs and drops and then track the returns and use some simple math to determine the return rates, cost per dollar raised, return on investment on a per segment, per piece and per program basis.  Phone program contacts likely can come out of the software that you use in your program.  If not automated, simply keep track of the number of folks you actually reach, the number of commitments you garner and how many yes, no and "I'll thinks" you get back.  Donor loyalty is the most complicated as it divides your donors up into categories based upon their last gift by fiscal year and their behavior immediately before that if they are a LYBUNT and immediately after if they are a SYBUNT (lapsed.)  There are several common versions of this report, with variations often occurring in first time donors and future donors (never given)/long lapsed donors.  I have a version of this I am happy to share if you are interested.  Campaign tracking can be complex showing multiple gift donors as unique categories, or what  I prefer which is simply a tracking of the last gift method (ie: mail, phone, online, personal visit) for each transactional donor.

If you can create these plus any others you think are meaningful, you have two options, establish a baseline this year or if possible, apply them to last year and start using that baseline as the starting point for this year's plan.  Either way, the resultant plan will benefit substantially from having a solid, data driven background.  


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