Fundraisers share why benchmarking data is critical to growing their charities.

The Benchmarking Project launched this year and has rapidly built a community of more than 60 charities and their supporting suppliers. There is an enormous benefit to being able to access high quality data analysis and insights. However, this is often seen as beyond the reach of organisations that are growing their fundraising programs from a low base. One of the main aims of The Benchmarking Project has been to make sure that organisations don’t have to work on a huge scale to be included in the Benchmarking community.  

We asked some members of the Benchmarking community with a focus on growing their own organisation or supporting others to grow, why benchmarking data is critical to them. 

Sean Triner, Co-Founder of Moceanic, works with growing organisations across the world of fundraising and is well known fan of data-driven fundraising:  

“…even for small individual fundraising programs, benchmarking data is useful. For example, a charity reliant upon events and grants deciding to broaden their portfolio decides to invest in individual giving. New donor acquisition rarely makes profit straight away – so they need to model their cashflow. For example, if they get x number of monthly givers how many can they expect to keep?  As a board member of a charity and working with many smaller organisations, I wouldn’t approve any investment in donor acquisition without some benchmarks. It is the fundraiser’s best tool for getting the board on board!” 

Sarah Collie, Individual Giving Manager at Foodbank Queensland, is in the first year of a five-year Individual Giving Strategy: “As there is no historical data to predict retention and growth from acquired donors, to help support the annual strategy and to demonstrate the expected financial outcomes from acquisition over a five-year period, we need to reference benchmarking statistics. 

“Benchmarking stats are also used in our monthly board reports and campaign reports to help gauge performance of our programs, and where improvements could be made.”  

We also talked to Jonathan Storey – Fundraising Director at Environment Victoria which has an established fundraising program. “For smaller or state-based charities like Environment Victoria, having access to sector wide benchmarking is incredibly important to growing our fundraising programs.  Whilst we’re nimble and keen to innovate, we don’t have the ability to scale and test at volumes of some of the larger charities in direct mail or digital.  Smaller organisations without a solid history of mass fundraising can also be disadvantaged when it comes to creating a compelling business case for an investment in face-to-face, telemarketing or bequests.  

“With sector benchmarks though I can prepare a business case with more certainty for the CEO or the board around risks and results. I can also use them to develop multi-year strategies, feeding through to annual plans and individual campaigns. I can set meaningful KPIs for things like second gift rates, 12-month regular gift retention or confirmed bequest numbers. On a day-to-day basis I can talk to suppliers from a level of knowledge and insight about the results I’m looking for, from say a telemarketing lead conversion campaign, knowing what success looks like, or when a nudge might be needed. 

“I’m particularly keen on the regular giving benchmarks and getting a sector-wide baseline around definitions of things like ‘attrition’ that will be a game changer in driving up the quality of donor recruitment and retention.” 

Lack of access to data, resources and shared experiences with colleagues can make championing growth in your organisation harder. Joining The Benchmarking Project community is a quick and easy way to strengthen your fundraising capacity: 

  • Provide a trustworthy basis for strategy development. 
  • Support communication and investment case development with your board. 
  • Strengthen performance management and review in existing programs using reliable data.
  • Access a broad-based set of detailed measurements across all key individual giving channels through the Essentials Report.
  • Participate in a community of like-minded colleagues sharing questions, answers, and experience. 
  • Access three forums throughout 2022 including sessions focussed on growing organisations. 
  • Tap into the collective wisdom of the fundraising sector – brought to life as actionable insights which will be useful right away. 

The Benchmarking Project community is still growing. We invite you to join colleagues and experts from across the sector: https://www.benchmarkingproject.org/  

F&P is a partner of The Benchmarking Project. 

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