It's important with any organisation to be strategic and focused with clear goals and targets, but arguably this is even more crucial when running a charity or non-profit.
To drive maximum efficiency and return, and to achieve your virtuous, important objectives you need to ensure you're focused on what's most important, carefully tracking the measurable performance indicators. Let’s take a look at some of your KPI options…
We'll start with fundraising as it's the backbone of any charity. You don't need us to tell you how crucial fundraising is, obviously. Charities will succeed or fail based entirely on their ability to raise funds in order to deliver their service or support their beneficiaries. So what are the key performance indicators when examining your fundraising performance?
Donations / Gifts
Type: Currency or Number
The lifeblood of many non-profits is the donations they receive. This KPI measures the number of donations and/or the financial amount donated within a certain time period.
Recurring Donations / Gift Revenue
Type: Currency or Number
If you work on individual giving this KPI is really important. Recurring donations require less work once established and help you build up a reliable income source over time. You may choose to measure the number of recurring gifts, or the value, or both.
Single to Recurring Donations / Gift Conversion
Type: Percentage or number
As part of your donor journey you may be planning to convert single or one-off donors into recurring donors. This KPI will help you track the number or percentage of single donors you convert to recurring.
Recurring Donations / Gift Percentage
Measuring the percentage of your donations that are recurring donations can be a guide to how well you are engaging your supporters, as well as linking into a strategic objective to convert one-off donations to more regular giving.
Type: Currency or Percentage
Looking for growth year-on-year is often important to any non-profit, so this metric will help you keep track of your progress. Over a set period of time it’ll show you the difference either as a percentage or as a financial amount.
Number of Individual Donors
Having a low number of high-value donations is a risk as you could easily lose one and it have a noticeable impact on your revenue. Increasing your number of donors, even if the gift amount is smaller, is the best way to mitigate against this risk and forms a key part of the donor pyramid/donor journey.
Type: Percentage or Number
Tracking the number of donors who support your non-profit is important, so this metric is often shown as either a total number of the percentage change of donors in a certain time period.
Donor Retention Rate
If you’re a non-profit that receives regular donations this is an important KPI. It looks at the number of donors you have retained each month.
Average Gift Size
The average donation size is often tracked as a KPI. It can be used to project fundraising or measure how effective you are at increasing your income from your existing base of supporters.
Average Gift Size Growth
One tactic for improving fundraising is to nudge the average gift size upwards. This KPI is useful to monitor your progress at increasing the donation size.
Number of Donors by Type
Type: Number or Currency
This is actually a collection of KPIs. Measuring your income source is really important, as a diverse range of sources can strengthen your overall position. Example KPIs might be Individuals, Community/Events, Corporates, Trusts and Foundations etc. Take a read of our Revenue Segmentation Guide for more information on this subject.
Number of Legacies
Talking of income types, Legacies are often an important source of large, one-off donations. Working to get legacies requires focus and doesn’t have an immediate return-on-investment, so if this is part of your strategic plan then measuring your number of pledged or secured legacies is an important KPI.
Donor Lifetime Value
In a similar way to how for-profits will be measuring the lifetime value of customers, not-for-profits should be tracking the lifetime value of a donor or supporter. This helps provide the data to project forward the impact of increasing your donors.
Pledge Fulfilment Percentage
A pledge is a promise of support for funding in the future, often around some project or condition. As a pledge is not as instant as a donation it’s important to track the number that become a reality, and that’s where this KPI comes into play. Knowing the % conversion allows clearer planning, while if your PFP goes too low it highlights an issue.
This KPI is often split into a number of different KPIs measuring your different fundraising activities. If you have a diverse range of work, from events through to grants, then you may want to measure the amount of cost that goes into each one. This KPI group can allow you to focus on higher return activities.
Grant Win Rate
Another major income source for non-profits can be grants. Grant applications are an art form, so if you’re applying for lots of them, this KPI to track the percentage that you win is well worth having on your KPI Dashboard.
As a charity you’re likely to be delivering some sort of service. The context of each charity is clearly very different, for example, a charity focusing on homelessness is very different to a charity focusing on saving public libraries. In both cases programs are delivered, but you may need to adapt the following to suit your own operations…
Number of Beneficiaries/Participants
This simple KPI is the number of beneficiaries/participants your charity has engaged or helped throughout a period of time. It’s often recorded as a key way to see how effective you are being at delivering the support and achieving your vision.
Beneficiary/Participant Satisfaction Rate
In some cases you may also be asking the beneficiary/participant how satisfied they are with what you have delivered to them. This, alongside narrative feedback, can be a really useful way to improve how you help others and deliver your services.
Project/Program Outcomes Achieved
Type: Number or Percentage
As part of your project/program planning and monitoring, evaluating and learning process you will have some key outcomes you want to achieve to contribute towards your overall goal. Measuring your progress towards achieving these outcomes is key to ensuring you are delivering impactful and effective work.
Increasing public awareness is often a key strategic objective for many charities. Here are a couple of example KPIs in this space…
Public Awareness Survey
If your cause is one that is rare, not widely known, or niche, then it may be you research annually how many members of the public are aware of it. This is often done by a third party or by finding audiences that your charity do not normally interact with and simply asking if they know about the subject, and if they have heard of your charity. The two results that come from this give you benchmarks for the following year.
Website Page Views
As donations and support increasingly move to online platforms, a strong website and social media presence is needed for any growing charity. One simple KPI used to measure awareness and engagement is the monthly website page views, which this KPI fulfils.
When traffic hits your site it’s helpful to have some sort of aim for it. Perhaps it’s to donate to your charity, sign up as a volunteer, or join your newsletter. Whatever your core call-to-actions are, measuring the percentage of traffic that actually completes the action should be a key metric to indicate the effectiveness of your site and messaging.
There’s a lot of KPIs to list here as awareness ultimately comes down to marketing. You can take a read of our Complete List of Marketing KPIs for more information.
Working in the charity sector can be physically and mentally draining as the team often deal with emotional and difficult circumstances. It’s therefore crucially important that any strategy or KPI Dashboard also factors in some people-based metrics.
The basic understanding of how your team are doing begins by simply asking them. We’re not suggesting you should only rely on this E-SAT figure, but it should be part of your overall view on how well the team are supported.
Employee Retention Rate
A more telling KPI of team satisfaction and wellbeing could be your retention rate. Obviously as people leave you lose experience and organisational knowledge, so while having some churn is good for ideas and sustainability, it’s important it doesn’t go too high.
Number of Volunteers
Often charities rely on the great work of volunteers, so keeping a track of your numbers is important. This KPI looks at number of active volunteers in the network.
Volunteer Growth Rate
As you ramp up your campaigns and activity, you may need to increase your volunteer base. Keeping track of the growth rate therefore becomes a KPI you may wish to include on your Charity KPI Dashboard.
Volunteer Churn Rate
Good volunteers can be hard to find, often with training requirements and additional checks around topics such as safeguarding. It’s therefore important to not lose lots of volunteers, so keeping an eye on churn rate can be a useful KPI. A high churn may be a result of the support your volunteers feel they are given.
We won’t repeat ourselves but if you’d like to know more about these people-based key performance indicators, then take a look at our Complete List of HR KPIs.
So, there are a bunch of important KPIs to track when running a charity. As we always say with our lists of KPIs, it's best practice to not have too many metrics on your KPI Dashboard. KPIs are there to keep everyone focused on the most important aspects of performance that you need to get right. If you have too many, then you will be reducing the focus. So pick your winners, add them to your KPI Dashboard, and start tracking them.
Good luck with hitting your targets 🎯
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