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Essential KPIs to measure the success of a Christmas appeal during a pandemic

As charities start the planning for their Christmas appeal, there's a sense of tension in the air.

With the biggest season of giving upon us, Australia is currently bordering on a recession putting luxury spending in question. It's safe to say that this upcoming appeal is going to be tougher than the average Christmas appeal, but by no mean's impossible.

As the Christmas appeal is generally the most profitable campaign of the year, in this current economic climate, the measure of success needs to be more than monetary. Of course, dollars received are still critical, but putting further measures in place will help gauge the success of a campaign in other areas.

Here are some KPIs we recommend you focus on:

New donor acquisition rate

In times where donations might not be as forthcoming, it's important to create a really strong campaign for prospects. New donors are a significant metric in this climate as they will assist fundraising efforts in the future when life returns to normality.

To determine the percentage acquisition rate, identify the number of new donors originating from the appeal and compare to the number of existing donors. New donors are usually separated from the total donors for a specific period (usually 12 months) and this number should rise from previous appeals.

Donor retention rate

While the average donation is likely to fall during uncertain times, retaining donors is now of paramount importance, even if the average donation is less than usual. Before the appeal starts, implement a strict retention strategy to make sure you do everything possible to retain donors who say they no longer wish to give.

This might include the following:

  • Reviewing how you manage remove from database requests (for example, pausing correspondence for 12 months rather than removing completely)
  • Specific training for the donor service team
  • Assessing any inclusions sent with the appeal to make sure they're relevant and necessary to avoid giving the impression that you're wasting donor's money.

Donations received

Of course, the dollar value of donations is significant. Don't assume you'll see a drop in this bottom line but if you do, have some strategies in place to respond. Perhaps you can send a donor survey to see why people have stopped giving. It's important to separate the current economic crisis from more personal reasons for a decline in giving, many of which you may have the power to change.

ROI of the campaign

The return on investment will help keep a campaign on track. At this point, we expect many charities are reducing campaign costs from the outset. Perhaps by bringing printing or graphics in-house or opting for email rather than direct mail.

By reducing these costs, if the donations received falls, the ROI may still be within a healthy range.

Donor lapse rate

A donor usually lapses after two years of not giving. Data analysis will determine the date of the last gift and whether the donor is now considered lapsed. This information is key. If a donor already has a relationship with a charity, it's much more cost-effective to re-engage them rather than acquire new donors. Work on your lapsed campaign concurrently to improve results.

Social media engagement

Popular social media platforms provide excellent data for organic and paid engagement, new followers and unfollows. While this data doesn't necessarily translate to income, building a following during these unprecedented times is particularly important as these are the people likely to become donors in future.

Assessing social media engagement is an excellent way to learn about the types of campaigns your audience responds to so you can create future campaigns based on meeting those needs.

EDM conversion rate

If you've opted to send part of or all of the appeal via email, the data analysis is endless. You can easily see the delivery rate of campaigns, unsubscribe rate, emails opened and CTR (click through rate). You can even go deeper into the data and see the time of day someone prefers to donate.

This valuable data provides detailed insight into the content the audience responds to so you can create campaigns based on meeting those needs.

Analyse the last few email campaigns before you start to create the Christmas appeal. Once someone has unsubscribed, privacy laws prohibit future contact without their permission so it's imperative you do all you can to keep them as a supporter.

SupporterHub is an integrated fundraising platform with data analysis at its core. We already know that a campaign is only as successful as the analysis, so we recommend that the planning for the Christmas campaign includes data analysis from existing campaigns to set realistic targets. Gaining a thorough understanding of donor habits will help put some non-monetary KPIs in place to mark the success of the appeal during uncertain times.

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