By: Taylor Shanklin

4 Tips to Start Measuring the ROI of Donor Experiences at Your Nonprofit

More nonprofits are recognizing the influence of donor experience on the overall health of their fundraising. But how can your organization connect value to those experiences and tie them back to ROI? That’s a question many organizations are still struggling to answer.

On a recent episode of our Go Beyond podcast, Pursuant Executive Vice President of Analytics, Insights, and Experience Hilary Noon dove into this topic. Here are some of the key takeaways she shared on how nonprofits can get things rolling when it comes to measuring the impact of donor experiences...

1. Focus on one part of the donor journey

The donor experience is wide-reaching. It includes everything a donor feels from the minute they first come to understand your organization all the way through to when they decide to engage further (making a donation, participating in events, volunteering, etc.), and beyond. Since the donor experience stretches so far, it’s important to determine what part of the donor journey you really want to focus on.

If you’re not sure where to start measuring satisfaction, look to your key channels or transactions. If your organization is primarily event-based, start there. That’s where the majority of your revenue is and that’s the piece the CFO is paying the most attention to. If you can start to measure transactions for events on a regular basis and how satisfied donors are coming out of those event experiences, you can start to look at similarities between events that are getting high satisfaction scores and events that are also doing well in revenue.

2. Lower the barriers to increase donor feedback

Survey results tend to be a leading indicator of revenue in the future. When people feel a certain way, that’s going to carry them forward for a certain period of time. “At one organization I was with,” Noon said, “we used to be able to predict event revenue for the following year within one percentage point because of our ongoing measurement of experience. That’s powerful!”

The organizations that have the most success gauging satisfaction are the ones that collect it in a lot of different ways. They’re giving people opportunities wherever they are to answer questions—and they’re doing it in a simple, streamlined manner. The 3-5 question survey is a really effective method. But the delivery mechanism is key. You want to make it as easy and convenient as possible. It can be as simple as giving your donors the option of choosing an emoji to describe their experience.

3. Pay extra attention to your extreme users

Most organizations have different ways of getting involved (events, donations, volunteering, advocacy, mission-type of engagement, etc.). The more involvement buckets people are in, the higher their lifetime value. If you’re going to start a satisfaction study, the people who have multiple points of intersection are the ones whose feedback you should seek first. These are your extreme users. They are highly engaged and have been with you in many different facets of the journey with your organization.

Oftentimes people who are not-so-connected to your organization are going to give you superficial feedback. When it comes to surveys, nonprofits also have to deal with the halo effect because “we’re the good guys”. Nonprofits are rarely going to get survey scores like cable companies or the IRS. You have to almost discount a little bit of positivity that comes back from people unless they are really close to you. Because those people tend to tell you what’s real.

4. Go where the resistance is the least

Find a champion in your organization—preferably somebody who has a big revenue driver as part of their core responsibility. That’s going to be your quickest path to buy-in and success. If your champion has a smaller footprint, that’s OK too. Then you can test things in an environment that is safe and learn. As soon as you see some success, and as soon as that champion starts to talk about it, you’ll start to have other people coming your way.

Whenever possible, start with the donor side of things because it has the clearest tie to revenue and it’s the quickest way to demonstrate impact. Also, start with the donor population that has the biggest value to your organization. If there’s a barrier there, go where the resistance is the least and just make some small moves. Whatever you can do to push the effort forward might be all you need to get your program started and build some momentum.  

Listen to the full Go Beyond podcast episode to learn more about how to tie ROI to creating great donor experiences.

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