By Josh Kashorek, Director of Marketing at Journity, and advocate for using data to create high-performance nonprofit marketing campaigns.

Every nonprofit has the goal of extending their impact as far as they can by helping as many people as possible. They also have a responsibility to their donors to spend their resources wisely – especially when it comes to things like marketing and communications that often get put on the back burner. In times like this when we’re in a strong economic downturn – and there’s a lot of uncertainty – your major donors may be pausing their donations or limiting them. It is more critical than ever to focus on the items that are going to have the biggest impact. 

While there are many things vying for your attention, when it comes to digital growth there are only five critical metrics you should look at to help you get the most out of your budget and drive long-term sustainable growth.

1) Traffic

Traffic has been called a vanity metric by some, because it is relatively easy to generate new traffic if you are not concerned about the quality. However, the fact remains that if you are wanting to cultivate new donors or reach new people in your community who need your services, they will have to hear about you at some point. Traffic is the first step in creating awareness, but it is not an indicator of success on it’s own. It needs to be combined with the other metrics to provide value.

2) Conversion Rates

The mention of conversion rates often makes nonprofit pros cringe, because it sounds technical, like some jargon a marketer would use. At the end of the day though, making small changes to your forms or calls-to-action can drive big gains. The average nonprofit website has a 1% conversion rate (according to the M+R Benchmarks report) and this means that 99% of the people you get to visit your website leave without donating or subscribing to your email list. By increasing your conversion rate to 1.5% or 2%, you will be getting 50%-100% more donors without adding any marketing budget. Focusing on your conversion rate is one of the few things you can do that can truly multiply your results.

3) Engagement

Many nonprofits overlook engagement as a valuable metric. This is because they have limited time and money, so they pour much of it into activities that can easily demonstrate a direct response. It’s fun to watch your numbers grow in social shares, or comments and likes, but it becomes really hard to point to those things having a direct impact on donations. That said, engagement is critical to driving responses. Through Journity we track engagement scores that show exactly how engaged users are with your content. We found that the average engagement score of a user that subscribed to an email list is nearly 20x the average website visitor and the average engagement score of someone who donated online was nearly 100X the average user. This shows that if you are not spending time truly engaging with your website visitors, then you are missing out on converting them to donors.

4) Average Donation Value

This is one metric that fundraisers with major donors spend a fair amount of time focusing on. However, when it comes to online or digital donations, many people take a one-size-fits-all approach. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. Technology is making it much easier to personalize the donation ask, based on CRM data or other factors, so you can make sure you’re making an ask that is appropriate to the donor.

5) Retention

The average donor retention rate will vary depending on which survey you read, however, all the surveys we’ve seen put it at less than 50%. It takes a lot of resources to find a new potential donor, connect with them, build a relationship, educate them on your nonprofit’s impact and how they can be a part of it, then get them to actually make a donation. So it should come to no surprise that after laying the groundwork to get the first donation, it is much easier to focus on keeping them engaged than it is to go out and find another donor. Retaining your base of donors is critical for long-term growth, because it provides a consistent source of funding your mission. Retention needs to go beyond your standard email with the same message to everyone – it needs to include personalized impact stories, relevant donation asks and consistent communication through all channels that keeps the donor excited about joining your mission.

When it comes to digital marketing for nonprofits, the options are quite literally endless! Regardless of which methods, tactics or strategies you employ, you should consider how each one can help you improve these five metrics. Then you will see long-term, sustainable digital growth.

Journity is the first website personalization platform designed specifically for nonprofits and includes all the important features a growing nonprofit needs such as options for both email capture and instant donation pop-ups. With Journity you can manage pop-ups and embed content directly inline with the rest of your website. We believe that all your website visitors are unique individuals and should have personalized content to help them along their journey.