Establishing Meaningful Measures of Success for Donor Relations and Stewardship

Session 3D: Establishing Meaningful Measures of Success for Donor Relations and Stewardship

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Join Anne Manner-McLarty and Debbie Meyers in St. Louis for an interactive workshop to explore the various methods being used for measuring the success of donor relations and stewardship and work in small groups to draft a measurement plan. Wednesday, October 3rd, 1:30pm in Regency C. Registration is available through the ADRP Conference app (iOS, Android).

Metrics is a hot topic within all fundraising fields. Measurement models have been established for monitoring the work of frontline fundraisers in order to assess the variety of activities performed as well as the schedule, pace, and outcomes of those activities. With this information in hand, choices can be made about which fundraising activities are most effective in achieving the desired donor behavior, most obviously giving.

There have been frequent calls for similar metrics in our field but few organizations are legitimately underway in their quest to implement a metrics program specific to donor relations and stewardship. There is a substantial debate about what should be measured and how and many argue it is harder to identify specific donor responses as outcomes of donor relations strategy. For instance, retention is the most frequently cited indicator of donor relations’ success but retention and upgrade are muddy measures that are influenced by many factors.

Before launching any metrics program, it is important to clarify these basics:

  • Why is data needed?

  • What will be measured?

  • Who will record, report and analyze the data?

  • When will meaningful data be available?

  • How might a metrics program be structured?

We’ll consider differences in measuring internal metrics, such as volume and type of activities performed by staff, versus external metrics, such as donor preference or behavior outcomes as a result of donor relations activity.

This session will explore the most frequent impediments to establishing a metrics program:

  • Lack of clarity about the goals of donor relations and stewardship

  • Insufficient data resulting from either inconsistent or nascent data-gathering

  • Unreasonable expectations about the potential for change based on insight gained from the metrics

Anne will provide ideas she explored in her article, “Developing Evidence-based Practice within Donor Relations and Stewardship,” published in Book 2: Measurement of the Journal of Donor Relations & Stewardship. Debbie will share experience she has gained implementing measurement practices for her donor relations team. We’ll then break out into small groups to develop measurement plans coupling the information shared during the session with practical experience from the participants.

Preview the materials for this session:

If these materials or the session lead you to try some of the ideas presented, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please email Anne at or call us at 828-505-7002.

Anne Manner-McLartyComment