Putting Your Fundraising Campaigns on the Couch


By, Pat Knoerle-Jordan – Partner and Nonprofit Practice Leader

Fundraising percentages, high cost fundraising, campaign dependency, net dollars fund the mission, short term – long term ROI, risk, fully loaded costs, robust blended portfolio.  What do all these terms mean?  And how and why would you want to put your fundraising campaigns on the couch?

Putting your campaigns on the couch means you’re ready to analyze your total campaign to gather knowledge, measure effectiveness and determine future strategy. Ask yourself have your campaigns been at a plateau?  Perhaps your organization has had a change in CEO or Development Director.   Are you embarking on your strategic planning process which necessitates you and your board having a clear picture of your campaign history and performance to set future strategy?  The outcome  of the creates a new shared language, addresses fundraising myths serves as a catalyst for decisions around resource allocation.

The analysis also includes dependency quotients combined with fundraising costs plus risk.  The shared language also results in a deeper understanding of your current picture and your desired results.  Every nonprofit wants their campaigns to achieve a robust blended portfolio.  The measures allow you to see where you are currently and determine the strategy to achieve that portfolio mix.  This process would provide you with tools based upon your results and future goals to reach your mission and ensure greater sustainability.

As the nonprofit sector evolves, the need for tools that analyze campaign effectiveness has grown too. A collaborative effort between BoardSource, Guidestar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the Association of Fundraising Professionals responded to this need to create these tools.  I am happy to meet and discuss these concepts with you on this dynamic project.  Our follow-up could include a deep dive on your current campaign which would result in development of the .  Recommendations to improve your current campaign tactics that integrate your strategic goals are developed.   The development of a complete campaign plan with detailed execution strategies could be the additional product from our partnership to enhance your results.

Checklist for

Who:  Assemble the team comprised of the CEO, Development Director, board fundraising committee chair or board members active in fundraising. They become your campaign validation work group. 

What: Data is essential to accurate analysis and good decision making. Ideally,  you’ll assemble 3-5 years of each campaign’s results by income, campaign expense and administrative expense. Include fully loaded costs of staff and time into expense.  Gather the information on number of donors segmented by gift size, retention rates and new donors acquired. If 3-5 years data is not available, we’ll go with what you can gather.

 When:  TBD at a time when you have data gathered your campaign data.  Process normally takes 1-2 months of intermittent activity.

 How: Completion of the tools provides us with essential data.  The campaign validation work group provides feedback to the analysis and our recommendations. They co-present the final and recommendations to the full board and senior staff.