Better Data for Better Fundraising Events
2 August 2018 at 7:30 am
FrontStream Asia Pacific managing director Steve Francis answers questions about how much data is too much, and how much you need to make informed decisions.
Event data is one of the most useful, yet under-utilised resources in your fundraising toolbox. At FrontStream, our powerful systems collect huge amounts of data from our clients’ events, which they can then use to improve their fundraising in the future and do even more good.
However, data is only useful if you can understand and interpret it. So how much data is too much, and how much do you need to make informed decisions?
Let’s take a look at the often misunderstood world of data, and answer some handy questions that can help you refine your campaigns and events.
By its very nature, “big data” can be overwhelming. Extremely large data sets allow patterns and trends to be identified that aren’t immediately apparent, but without proper focus, it’s easy to get lost in a pool of information overload. When analysing data from peer-to-peer events (such as World’s Greatest Shave and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea), fundraisers should first think about which metrics are most important to driving revenue and then focus on those.
A good starting point would be to look at the relationship between event registrations and revenue raised, year on year. Once you’ve mapped this out, you can examine this in the context of what else you were doing at the time. For example, did a social media marketing campaign drive participation or donations? Did you begin promoting the event earlier or later than usual and could this have impacted donations? These fundamental questions will give you an idea of your fundraising landscape and set a benchmark that you can compare against, as you make adjustments.
Another useful step is to work out the average amount raised per team and individual, then identify your top and bottom 10 per cent of fundraisers. Understanding these demographics is vital and will help with future marketing campaigns and maximise donations.
So, that’s data 101 – but if you want to delve a little deeper without getting swamped, here are three things you can analyse that have a real impact on the bottom line.
- Participation and donation rates
Examining trends in your participation and donation rates can help you focus your efforts and ensure you’re not wasting your time or money with ineffective advertising. For example, some peer-to-peer campaigns get high participation rates, but don’t receive many donations, in which case, trying to sign up more participants won’t help to raise more money. Instead, it would be better to specifically target slow fundraisers with marketing materials designed to help spur them into action or even charging a sign-up fee for the event. The more you understand about the relationship between participation and donation rates, the more you can refine your marketing and fundraising strategy – and do so with confidence.
- Your top-tier donors
Are a few fundraisers raising most of the donations? Segmenting the top fundraisers in the lead up to your event is a very smart thing to do, as it allows you to treat them more like major donors; with a personal touch. Thanking them for their previous efforts not only helps them feel appreciated, but it also provides you with an excellent opportunity to promote an upcoming event – perhaps even with an incentive to sign up early thrown in.
In addition to big data, qualitative research can be a potent tool. Use a quick and easy online survey to ask your top fundraisers what motivates them, how they drive donations, and what they like and don’t like about your event? By learning from those who are the most engaged, you can discover ways to improve the experience for everyone and raise more money.
- Getting the best ROI
It’s never a good idea to wing things or make big decisions based on a maximum guarantee engagement, but some great answers are lurking in our event data that can help craft the most amazing events and campaigns.
If all of this seems too basic, consider taking it up a level and ask your fundraising platform supplier to look into your data with you or ask a third-party to delve deep into your data to extract new insights for new strategies.
By examining your data, you can make informed decisions on where to allocate your budget to ensure a return on investment. The most obvious example of this is in social media marketing, where you can directly see who donated in response to a post they saw. But, when you take a closer look at your data, some other, less immediate apparent factors might come to light, allowing you to use your resources – be they money, time, people or all of the above.
About the author: Dr Steve Francis is managing director at FrontStream Asia Pacific. With a PhD in Anthropology and more than 20yrs experience in the not-for-profit sector, Steve and the team are focused on bespoke fundraising and engagement solutions for not for profits and corporates across Australia and New Zealand.