Nonprofit KPIs: 5 Key Metrics to Track in 2021

When it comes to assessing performance, it’s important to have objective indicators. After all, a 100-meter dash isn’t judged by who seems the fastest; the event is strictly timed to keep track of who crosses the finish line first. Similarly, your nonprofit shouldn’t make decisions based on what seems right or like it should work.

Instead, nonprofits will have the best results if they rely on objective metrics generated from concrete data about their donors, past campaigns, and marketing strategies. 

At SalsaLabs, we provide tools for nonprofits to store and analyze this data so they can make the best decisions possible about strategy, allocation of resources, and future campaigns. Paying close attention to key metrics can also lead to better communication with donors, more effective fundraising, and a greater impact on your nonprofit’s mission. 

There are countless metrics a nonprofit could choose to track depending on your goals and mission, but we won’t cover all of them here. Instead, we’ve taken five metrics from our Salsa guide to key performance indicators that cover a range of nonprofits’ priorities. Here are the KPIs we’ll discuss: 

  1. Matching gift rate 
  2. Recurring gift percentage 
  3. Email click-through rate 
  4. Landing page conversion rate 
  5. Donor retention rate

These KPIs are all useful for nonprofits focusing on improving their strategies for donor engagement, fundraising, and marketing. Tracking these metrics is essential to assessing your nonprofit’s progress and improving your strategies for the future. Let’s get started.

1. Matching gift rate

Matching gift rate describes the percentage of gifts donated to your organization that are matched by corporate philanthropy programs, doubling the amount of the original donation. 

Matching gifts are a hugely valuable aspect of many companies’ corporate philanthropy programs. For companies that pledge to match their employees’ gifts to eligible nonprofits, employees are usually required to fill out a specific form to claim the matched gift. But many of these employees aren’t even aware that their employers offer this giving opportunity, and that shows in the numbers. 

According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, an estimated $4-$7 billion in matching gifts for nonprofits goes unclaimed every year. 

Keeping up with your nonprofit’s matching gift rate can clue you in to how well your organization is getting the word out about the opportunity and collecting matching gifts. If you’re leaving a substantial amount of money on the table, it may be wise to invest in a matching gift tool or implement a matching gift drive. 

To calculate matching gift rate, use the following formula: 

MGR = (# of matched gifts / # of total gifts) x 100 

The result is expressed as a percentage of gifts that were matched in whatever time period from which you drew the donation data. (Be careful not to include the companies’ matching gifts as part of the “total” gifts figure—this will skew your results.) 

2. Recurring gift percentage

Recurring gift percentage, also known as sustaining gift percentage, reflects the portion of donations contributed to your organization in a given time period that were made as part of a recurring gift schedule. This metric can give you an idea of the number of donors who participate in your sustained giving program. 

Recurring gift programs provide donors with the opportunity to opt in to automatically contributing on a regular schedule (monthly, annually, weekly, etc.) and are usually provided as an option on the nonprofit’s donation form.

For example, there might be a button on a nonprofit’s donation page that says “How often would you like to make your donation?” or a checkbox offering donors the opportunity to immediately opt into a monthly giving program. Once donors are signed up for the recurring gift program, the donation amount is automatically processed every month so the donor doesn’t have to return to the nonprofit’s website or do any additional work. 

Participation in a recurring gift program greatly increases the donor’s lifetime value, or the total amount they’re likely to contribute over the course of their involvement with your organization. 

The stability provided by recurring gifts can be hugely beneficial to organizations of all types and sizes. When more of your supporters opt into these programs, you’ll have more predictable income, which enables more accurate budgeting. Knowing how much of your revenue that comes from recurring donation programs is the first step to ensuring this increased financial stability. .  

As we outline on this page, a comprehensive donor management software solution should be able to automatically identify and track the types of donations your nonprofit receives. This makes it easier to determine how many gifts are obtained as a result of a recurring giving program. To determine recurring gift percentage, follow these steps:  

  1. For a given time period (say, one calendar year) determine the total number of gifts secured. Let’s say the total number of gifts secured by a nonprofit is 900. 
  1. Determine how many of those gifts were obtained as part of a recurring gift program. Let’s say the same nonprofit received 245 of their 900 gifts as part of monthly giving programs. 
  1. Plug the values into the following formula: 

RGP = (# of recurring gifts / # of total gifts) x 100 

In this example, the nonprofit would make the following calculation: 

RGP = (245/900) x 100 = 27.2% 

This percentage indicates that 27.2% of this nonprofit’s annual gifts were obtained through a regular giving program. This metric can provide a solid baseline of information for a recurring gift drive or provide a status update for your ongoing recurring gift promotion efforts. 

3. Email click-through rate

Marketing metrics like email click-through rate are important indicators that show how effective  your outreach materials are at reaching your target audience. 

Email click-through rate describes the percentage of email recipients that engage further after opening one of your nonprofit’s emails. The way you gauge further engagement is whether or not the recipient clicked on a link provided in your email, hence the name “click-through.” 

In every email communication with your donors—whether it’s a thank-you email, a newsletter, or an appeal in a major fundraising campaign—your organization should provide ways for the audience to engage further with your organization. For a fundraising appeal, you’ll likely have calls-to-action inviting the viewer to donate. But for a thank-you email or a newsletter, you should still provide links through to your nonprofit’s website or for additional opportunities that drive increased engagement. 

Consider including links to your volunteer sign-up page, your website’s homepage, a recent impressive case study, a blog post, or your organization’s social media accounts to invite recent donors to get more involved. 

Providing additional channels for the audience to interact with your organization will increase the likelihood of their becoming interested in your cause and more involved in your nonprofit’s mission and programming. 

To calculate email click-through rate, use the following formula: 

CTR = (# of clicks through / # of emails delivered) x 100 

The result is a percentage of the audience that clicked on something in the email or campaign under consideration. It’s especially useful to evaluate click-through rate when conducting A/B testing on email fundraising appeals and assessing the effectiveness of your appeals in general.

4. Landing page conversion rate

A landing page describes the first page a user “lands” on after clicking a link. Usually, though, when we say “landing page,” we are referring to a page that asks the audience to do something. For example, after clicking on a “Get Involved” call-to-action (CTA), the user may be taken to a volunteer sign-up form that is the landing page for the “Get Involved” CTA. 

The landing page for a “Donate Now” button will likely be a donation form. Landing pages provide opportunities for users to convert, or to complete a desired action. 

Landing page conversion rate reports the users who complete the desired action as a percentage of the users who accessed the landing page. For example, say 300 people clicked through on your last email appeal and landed on your donation form for the campaign. Of those 300 people, only 125 actually ended up donating. Your landing page conversion rate would be calculated using the following formula: 

LPCR = (# of conversions / # of landing page visits) x 100 

Plugging in the numbers from this example yields this calculation: 

LPCR = (125 / 300) x 100 = 41.7% 

Expressed in words, 41.7% of users who accessed the nonprofit’s landing page actually ended up donating. A high LPCR indicates a strong landing page, while a low LPCR suggests there is room for improvement. Nonprofits’ landing pages should prioritize: 

  • Brevity 
  • Intuitive, clear design
  • Smooth user experience
  • Branding
  • Mobile optimization 

The design of your landing page can have a surprisingly significant impact on the total number of donations your organization receives, and consequently, your ability to accomplish your goals and broader mission. Don’t let something as seemingly trivial as one page impede your ability to succeed—instead, carefully track your LPCR and work to improve this metric to maximize donations. 

5. Donor retention rate

Finally, an essential donor engagement metric for all nonprofits: donor retention rate. 

Donor retention rate is vital to track to provide benchmarks for stewardship campaigns, donor recognition programs, and other engagement strategies. Retention rate is often calculated as a year-over-year metric, but you could use shorter or longer time frames depending on your nonprofit’s interests and goals. 

A comprehensive donor management system is essential to effectively tracking past and current donors, making it possible to easily discover donor retention metrics. With donor retention rate in particular, you’ll need software assistance to generate one of the values necessary for the formula: repeat donors. Repeat donors are donors who donated last year and this year. To calculate this quickly, you’ll need software to run a comparative analysis and tell you how many donors from last year appear on this year’s list as well. 

Once you have the number of repeat donors, you can plug the value into this formula to determine donor retention rate: 

DRR = (# of people who donated this year who also donated last year / total # of last year’s donors) x 100 

A low donor retention rate suggests your nonprofit may need to step up your donor recognition efforts. Keep in mind that donor retention is not just valuable for maintaining current levels of support, but retained donors are candidates for stewardship to become mid-level donors and eventually, maybe even major givers. 

Becoming a data-driven organization not only ensures your nonprofit is working with the most accurate, useful information, but can greatly increase your ability to build relationships with donors. Metrics from a range of departments like fundraising, engagement, and marketing can provide your nonprofit with a full picture of your organization’s strongest attributes, as well as where there is room for improvement. Best of luck!

About the Author: Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. 

Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.

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