Smart fundraising requires knowledge of the field, good judgment, and having the right tools and information at your disposal. Here are the reports you need—especially now—for development success.
We know garbage-in, means garbage-out, and that database considerations are essential right now in this COVID-19 crisis. As fundraisers we appropriately spend so much time investing in donor relationships. We understand the process and the time it takes to prospect and cultivate donors so that we can eventually make the ask. After all, fundraising is about, well, funds raised through relationships and not transactions—yet eventually our success is measured by dollars because if you can’t raise money, you’re probably in the wrong business.
During this time, we should continue to focus on relationships while also cultivating a healthy development culture that avoids short-term and knee-jerk thinking and strengthens an appreciation for all those touch points that play an essential role in your integrated-development strategy and self-appraisal as fundraisers. Creating reports to track data that support strategy are crucial to avoid constantly reinventing the wheel. Good reports also foster the diligence and smart thinking that does not misattribute success to transactional relationships that yield dollars in the short term, but also jeopardize long-term financial health. Whether you’re a development officer or director, these reports are crucial in managing your approach to fundraising and your day-to-day activities.
Below are some basic database reports to help you manage your caseload or department. These reports that take into consideration everything from dollars to tasks while keeping it as simple as possible, all things considered.
REPORT OF ACTIVITIES
Part of evaluating your work is by allocating time to your key performance indicators or key tasks—those activities that, if done consistently and well, will result in meeting revenue goals. This report shows you your tasks broken up by type and objective (or other major areas of delineation that you think are essential). You can get a sense of how much of your time within a week or month were spent on calls, meetings, emails (this is the type of activity), and what percentage were introductions, solicitations, cultivations (the objective of the activity).
This is meaningful information that does take a concerted effort to track—but even tracked roughly provides valuable insight that allows you to make real-time adjustments to stay on track. Here’s the catch: tasks must be logged consistently, and categorized by type and objective with the activity date and owner. If you can do that, you can leverage a report of activities to improve your habits and time on task.
REPORT BY FUNDRAISER
This report totals donations brought in by each fundraiser, and can be run monthly, quarterly, an, of course, annually. This report forces a review of each fundraiser’s caseload and subsequent fundraising goal based off giving level, upgrade potential, and net worth. This report allows a review of revenue goals and how each member contributes to the whole.
To be able to run this report, donors (or donations) need to be assigned to someone and have a system that incorporates revenue goals. The simplest way to do this with your database is to have goals be denoted on a donor’s record. Then, you can run a report that compares goals with outcome.
This report is useful for evaluation, of course, but it is also an important tool for a fundraiser. However frequently this is used for evaluation, fundraisers should use it more frequently to measure their own progress. When you look at your “Report by fundraiser” next to your “Report of activities,” you have an enormous amount of information to help you see what you are doing well or poorly, to diagnose why you may be behind on goals, what adjustments you need to make, and so on. The reports won’t do the work for you, but they give you the tools and information you need to make informed judgments about your performance and how you are spending your time.
REPORT BY REVENUE SOURCE
A report that itemizes donations by source, and possibly, motivation. Donations are grouped by the source that brought in the donation, such as events, online, direct mail, etc. For your database to be able to run this report, every donation must be assigned to a campaign source to be able to understand the motivation of the gift.
REPORT BY REVENUE DESIGNATION
Again, this report groups donations by the designation or purpose of the gift. Much giving is essentially designated to annual fund or general operations. However, many donations support specific programs, and this report allows you the ability to measure goals accurately and in real-time. Ensure your designation of gifts even for general fund is marked in every entry. When you are going to see a donor or make an ask towards a program, they will want to know how much you’ve raised toward your goal. You don’t want to play Sisyphus every time you need this information.
A new development officer takes at least 12 months to cultivate relationships to see the return on relationship. It takes time, and reports are a simple and useful way to show your value to your supervisor, and for supervisors to evaluate performance and make real-time, informed decisions while creating insight into donor motivations. This allows both you and your supervisor to fairly appraise your contributions, especially when times are hard.