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3 practical things you can do right now to track your digital fundraising activities

The longer I spend working in digital (over 20 years now – yikes!), the more I’m reminded that data and measurement are foundational to everything we do. You can have the most creative, inspiring campaign concepts, but unless you’re able to measure and evaluate how they perform, they can easily flop and waste your resources.

Measurement is so important that I’d always recommend starting with analytics and data when you’re building digital skills in your organization, whether it’s training a new team or upskilling yourself. 

Why measurement matters in digital fundraising

  • A good understanding of metrics and KPIs will allow you to evaluate your campaigns while they happen, giving you both the short-term opportunity to improve results, and longer-term intelligence that you can apply to future campaigns.
  • It’ll help you evaluate work done by agencies and properly interrogate their results.
  • A lot of tracking is impossible to apply retroactively – you need to make sure everything’s set up correctly at the start of each campaign.
  • Systems sometimes fail so you need to make sure you have your own tracking set up, and are not completely reliant on, for example, Facebook’s Ad Manager reporting.

Tracking and how to set it up

So now that we’ve covered why measurement matters, we need to choose from the types of tracking available and set them up to work across all of our supporter touch points.  Here are my list of recommendations and some top tips on how to use them.  

Get the specifics with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the industry standard for tracking digital data, and it’s free to use. It should be installed on any websites and apps owned by your organization, and you can integrate it with many third party services to track results there too, such as Eventbrite. 

A few top tips for using Analytics:

  • Conversion tracking needs to be set up individually for each website, because each website is different. This is hugely important and your conversion tracking should be regularly checked to ensure it’s working properly (say approximately twice a year, and before each fundraising campaign launches).
  • Talk to your web developer about installing Google Tag Manager to install Analytics – this sister service from Google has two major benefits:
    1. It’s essentially a tracking tag container system. You can install multiple tracking codes through Tag Manager (including Analytics and the Facebook Pixel), and just place the Tag Manager code on your website, making the pages faster to load and the tags easier to manage. 
    2. It allows you to set up tracking for ‘events’ on your website that are not tracked by Analytics, such as page scroll depth and button clicks. 

 

Psst! Google is in the process of retiring its ‘Universal Analytics’ and is requiring users to switch to Google Analytics 4. If you haven’t already looked at this, do so soon; you’ll need to install GA4 and set up conversion tracking on it ASAP in order to start gathering data on the new system. 

The power of a pixel

To make the most of the powerful targeting in Facebook Ads, you will need to set up the Facebook Pixel on your website, and create custom conversions on this pixel. 

Facebook describe the Facebook pixel as A piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimize and build audiences for your advertising campaigns.” This small piece of code allows you to

  • Measure cross-device conversions
  • Optimize delivery to those likely to take action
  • Create custom audiences from website visitors
  • And learn more about your website traffic

 

Facebook has it’s own range of helpful tutorials for getting this set up and you can learn more about using the Facebook pixel in one of their Meta Blueprint courses. Don’t forget to also check that your nonprofit has Facebook’s Giving Tools turned on so you can really make the most of this platform. 

UTMs or tracking gems? 

This is another Google service that is invaluable when it comes to tracking and measuring your results. To use this, all you have to do is add a snippet of code to the campaign links that you share on your various digital channels and platforms. You can track different campaigns, channels and content by customizing the UTM codes, and this then gives you highly useful information, such as:

  • The value of donors from Twitter vs email vs Facebook vs organic search within a specific campaign
  • Which versions of ads or landing pages in a creative split test delivered the most results
  • Results from paid vs organic Facebook activity within the same campaign

And much, much more!

It’s also crucial for comparing results from different reporting systems – Facebook will often report very differently from Google Analytics. By using UTM tracking on the links on your Facebook Ads, you can carefully compare the data from the two systems and identify any issues. 

If you’re not already using UTM, start by reading available guides and getting your head around how it works. It’s not a complex system, but it’s very, very easy to get it wrong. If you’re already using it, it’s worth doing a quick review of your current UTM codes and making sure they follow best practice. Then once you’re confident, you can create a template to generate and record your own UTM tags and use tools such as Google’s UTM generator.

Resources and training for strengthening your measurement skills

  • GivePanel Academy – get complete immersion in Facebook fundraising, including ads, virtual challenges, group management and much, much more. The Academy provides training webinars, downloadable tools and templates, and a peer learning group where you can go to get help with setting and tracking.
  • Google Analytics Academy – free, certified online training from Google in Analytics, Tag Manager and Data Studio. Available at a range of levels, this is great for upskilling and refreshing knowledge.
  • Annielytics – the definitive guide to UTM tracking.

Next steps

Watch out for part two where we’ll discuss what KPIs your nonprofit should be paying attention to, coming soon to the GivePanel blog.

In the meantime, find out how GivePanel can help manage your Facebook fundraising by booking your 30 minute demo with one of the in-house Facebook fundraising experts.

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