Metrics mania: the numbers you just have to know


On Monday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention 2017. For those that missed it here’s a summary of my talk.

Demonstrate impact


When it comes to digital fundraising, it makes sense to demonstrate impact. You can see what’s worked, what hasn’t and determine actions for the future. It can help you to secure future digital marketing budgets, stop you making the same mistake twice and prove the value of digital to sceptical senior managers!

In 2016 the Charity Digital Skills report found that 78% of the people surveyed rated their ability to use, analyse and measure data as fair, low or very low. This is worrying. If people don’t know how to use the data, then how are key digital marketing and digital fundraising decisions being made?

As a sector, we need to move towards data-driven digital fundraising and start putting data at the heart of our decision making.

Create a measurement strategy

So how do you become data-centric? There’s so much data to sift through – how do you know which metrics will be useful and which won’t tell you anything?

A good place to start is by creating a measurement strategy. This will help you identify what you plan to do, understand what you need to track and report on and determine what success will look like for your charity.

A measurement strategy is made up of three steps:

  1. Defining your objectives – what are the overall objectives of what you are measuring?
  2. Defining your goals – what are the specific strategies you’ll use to meet your objectives?
  3. Defining your KPIs (key performance indicators) – what is the most appropriate metric that will indicate performance?


Is your metric a vanity metric?


Vanity metrics are metrics that make you feel good if they go up (or bad if they go down) but don’t actually help you make decisions. A great example of a vanity metric is Facebook likes. Just because someone has liked your page doesn’t mean they are engaging with your content. Rather than vanity metrics, focus on metrics that allow you to take action.

A great way of identifying whether a metric is a vanity metric or not is by conducting the ‘so what’ test.



To really be successful with your data, you need to benchmark. Benchmarking is where you compare your current activity with past performance. It will allow you to see how well you’ve done and where there are gaps for improvement.

Set specific targets – how many donations do you want to get? How much money do you want to raise. Be as specific as possible. Make it easy for yourself to assess whether your digital fundraising activity was a success.

Above all else, think about all of this stuff before you launch your campaign – not as an afterthought.


By becoming data-centric with your digital fundraising you’ll find you are more efficient, produce better results and will be able to demonstrate the impact of your efforts.

You can download my measurement strategy template here.

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Fran Swaine is a freelance digital marketing consultant who specialises in working with charities and not for profits. Fran has spent 10 years working in digital marketing and has extensive experience of working with charities both big and small. Fran is particularly passionate about providing smaller organisations the same expertise and knowledge usually only the big guns get access to. Web: Twitter: @franswaine