Blog       What KPIs should you be paying attention to with your digital fundraising?

What KPIs should you be paying attention to with your digital fundraising?

Measurement, particularly in digital fundraising, could be the difference between a successful campaign and a complete flop. In my last blog, I covered what tools your nonprofit needs to accurately track activity across your social platforms and website. Now it's time to understand exactly what you should be measuring, and how this will differ across the various fundraising activities on Facebook. 

What is a KPI and how is it different from a metric?

'KPI' stands for 'Key Performance Indicator', and you can use KPIs to set targets and evaluate the success of your campaigns. People frequently use ‘metrics’ interchangeably with KPIs, but technically metrics are just the various data points that you’re measuring.

As an example, the amount of traffic that comes to a campaign landing page is a metric, whereas the conversion rate on that landing page is a KPI because the latter will tell you if the page is performing. Metrics can exist without a target, but a KPI needs a target to be truly useful.

Your KPIs should be closely linked to your business objectives. Here are some examples:

  • If you have a goal to attract new supporters, your KPI would be number of new participants in your fundraising event.
  • If your goal is to retain existing supporters, your KPI would be number of repeat participants.
  • If your goal is to increase the overall amount raised, your target KPI would be to grow the number of fundraisers and the average value of each fundraiser.

Watch out for vanity metrics

One of my greatest digital bugbears (and there are many!) is the persistence of vanity metrics in digital and social fundraising. A few examples:

  • Followers on social media these have been meaningless for years now, but still people insist on measuring them and worse, setting targets for growing them. Someone following you does not mean that they will ever see or engage with your content. Your engaged audience (created through the Facebook custom audiences tool) is a much better indicator of whether people are actually interested in what you’re doing. Measure this, plus your reach and engagement rate, and educate your colleagues and board about why they need to stop focusing on follower numbers.
  • Impressions on social media all an impression means is that your content appeared in a user’s social feed. It doesn’t mean they read it or even noticed it; they may have scrolled quickly past it in order to watch a viral video. It’s fine to check impressions to make sure your ads are delivering, but on their own, they are not a measure of success.

Generally, vanity metrics are focused on fuzzy ‘awareness’ instead of real results. There is no evidence that ‘impressions’ make people more likely to support your cause. People see thousands of ads and messages every single day - you need evidence that your campaign has actually cut through.

So, look for real, measurable results instead: donations, signups, fundraising pages created, products purchased, etc. Read more in the next section about the metrics and KPIs you should be paying attention to instead.

Top 5 KPIs for digital fundraising

The most strategically useful KPIs to set for your digital fundraising are:

  1. Total income and profit
  2. Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  3. Return on investment (ROI)
  4. Opt-ins
  5. Lifetime value (LTV)

Why these KPIs?

Total income and profit: how much money your campaign has made, and if it is profitable, is arguably the single most important thing you need to know!

Cost per acquisition (CPA): a highly important measurement because it allows you to compare the cost per acquisition across different types of fundraising events and campaigns, and figure out which ones deliver the best value. This is crucial intelligence to have when you’re planning your long-term fundraising strategy and developing your portfolio of offline, digital and social fundraising activities.

Return on investment (ROI): meaning what the ratio is of profit to expense. Again, very important information to have in long-term, bigger picture planning. You will be able to consider and evaluate which campaigns deliver the best investment for your charity’s limited funds and use this information to decide which campaigns to prioritize and which to drop. You can also look to scale the campaigns with the best ROI.

Opt-ins: every campaign you do should have a goal of gathering opt-ins somewhere in the plan. It may not be your primary goal; for most fundraising activities that will be raising income. But there should always be a secondary goal to get permissions from your donors or participants to involve them in future campaigns and initiatives. Every campaign you do should be building your support base. People who are willing to participate in a fundraising campaign are showing a strong interest in your cause, and you have an excellent opportunity to nurture that relationship into ongoing support. So, plan the touchpoints for getting people to opt-in, and set KPIs for a healthy opt-in rate.

Lifetime value (LTV): a lot of digital fundraising formats are focused on short-term return (such as emergency appeals, crowdfunding, virtual challenges and birthday fundraisers). It’s up to you to develop a plan to further engage these donors and fundraisers, and cultivate them into ongoing supporters. For example, some GivePanel clients are seeing good success with doing regular giver conversion campaigns via phone and calling people who have done their virtual challenges. Develop a good, evidence-based plan for converting people who have supported you in a short-term campaign, set some rigorous targets, and then measure their lifetime value to compare the results to donors acquired from offline channels.

Top KPIs for Facebook fundraising

You can apply the main digital fundraising KPIs listed above to all of your Facebook fundraising campaigns, and you’ll also use the following KPIs that take the many quirks of Facebook into account.

There are so many different ways you can use fundraising on Facebook. A quick rundown of some of the more popular formats:

  • Facebook virtual challenges use lead ads, a Facebook group and Facebook fundraising pages to get supporters to undertake an activity challenge and raise funds
  • Donations on Facebook promote donations that happen through the Facebook Giving Tools, using promoted posts with the donate button or ads that are optimized for on-Facebook donations
  • Birthday fundraisers the fundraising pages that people use to raise money for their favourite charity in lieu of birthday gifts
  • Conversion ads ads that bring people off Facebook to your website or online shop to make a donation, book an event or buy a product
  • Lead campaigns prospect for new supporters using Facebook’s lead ads, contact them via other channels (phone or email) to convert them to regular givers

There’s a lot in this, right? So what KPIs should you use? I’ll break it down for you by type of campaign.

Virtual Fundraising Challenges

You should measure and set targets for cost per lead, conversion to group membership, registrations for the incentive, conversion to active fundraiser, cost per acquisition for active fundraisers, group engagement, average raised, overall income and return on investment (ROI).

I know this is a lot! But help is at hand we have detailed resources and tools about this very topic:

Donations on Facebook

Your key KPIs are cost per result and return on investment (ROI). Measure how much each donation costs you in terms of ad spend, and calculate the profit.

Birthday fundraisers

In the vast majority of cases, birthday fundraisers are driven organically. They’re very difficult to promote through ads, as the criteria for targeting is so narrow (only people very, very warm to you will want to donate their birthday, and each one of them only has one birthday a year!). So rather than setting targets for growth, we’d recommend instead setting KPIs around nurturing and thanking your fundraisers. Properly thanking them will raise the average gift.

Some strategic KPIs to consider are number of birthday fundraisers thanked (set a target of 100%) and opt-ins for ongoing communications.

While it’s difficult to set targets for the number of monthly birthday fundraisers and income, as there are so many factors affecting them, you should definitely be measuring them. This will enable you to monitor trends and identify when you get an uplift. You may see a halo effect when you’re doing a major campaign or a virtual challenge, for example.

Conversion ads

The key KPI here is cost per acquisition (CPA) how much does each result cost? Set a target in line with benchmarks for your first campaign, and then aim to reduce it in future campaigns by optimizing your ads.

When it comes to conversion ads which are promoting conversions like sign-ups to regular giving that involve an ongoing relationship, you also need to set KPIs for lifetime value (LTV) and retention. This will allow you to compare the regular givers acquired through Facebook Ads to those from other channels.

If you’re not sure how to start with conversion ads or how to benchmark them, the GivePanel Academy is the perfect place to learn and get hands-on support.

Lead campaigns

With lead campaigns, you will want to monitor the cost per result and the volume for your short-term KPIs. A very high cost per result will tell you that Facebook is struggling to find an interested audience, and low volume suggests the same.

Monitoring these numbers will give you a chance to optimize your campaign if it’s not performing. Once you have your leads, the KPIs to focus on are conversion to donor, cost per acquisition, lifetime value.

You don’t need to worry about conversion rates with Facebook Ads. Here’s why...

You may be used to measuring conversion rate on channels like your website. If 100,000 people visit your campaign landing page, and only 100 sign up (a conversion rate of 0.1%), that clearly indicates that there’s a problem with your landing page or your ask. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive but you don’t really need to worry about conversion rates with Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads work very differently. Their algorithm will find people who are likely to convert it doesn’t need to wait to see how they react to a landing page because it already has so much data on its users. Then once it has the first 50 results, it will use them to build a statistical model and show the ad to more users who are like the first 50. It’s just a very different system, and conversion rates there don’t map to the ones you get on other channels. I’ve seen Facebook Ad campaigns which have performed phenomenally well in terms of delivering donors or challenge participants that technically had a very low conversion rate. When it comes to Facebook Ads, focus on cost per result and volume instead.

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