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4 key metrics to evaluate your fundraising appeal

Posted January 10, 2019 by Virginia Davidson

key appeal metrics to measure

A lot of planning goes into a fundraising appeal, and it’s worth investing that same level of careful thought once your appeal winds down. You can glean a lot of helpful information from an appeal evaluation, which will guide you on what to repeat and what to change next time around for stronger results. In this article, we discuss four key metrics you can use to evaluate the success of your fundraising appeal.

Appeal metric #1: How much money was raised

It’s important to track both the gross amount and the net amount of the dollars raised. You may have invested money in designing a really visually impressive appeal letter this year, and maybe this new approach increased donations by $5,000. But if your organization spent an additional $5,000 on the design, then your net revenue shows no change. Be sure to track the amount raised as well as the cost of the appeal.

Appeal metric #2: Response rate

How many constituents did you solicit in your appeal, and how many responded to your request with a gift? Determine the percentage of solicited constituents who made a gift in response to your appeal.

Appeal metric #3: Response rate by segment

In addition to the overall response rate, calculate the response rate by the different segments of constituents you solicited. Did you have a high response rate of first-time donors but a low response rate from your major donors? This level of detail can help you assess how you’ve communicated with those segments over the past year and enables you to plan strategically for the year ahead. If you’re facing a low response rate from a particular segment, it’s a good indication you’ll need to invest time and effort into re-engaging them.

Appeal metric #4: Health of mailing list

The health of your mailing list can have a profound impact on your response rate. If you mail 400 letters and 150 come back as undeliverable, that will drop your response rate considerably, and it also increases your printing and postage costs. Keep track of the number of letters that come back as undeliverable and be sure to update the constituents’ records in your database accordingly. Constituents can’t respond to your letter if they can’t receive it in the first place, so make sure you have up-to-date contact information. Running your data through the National Change of Address registry is a good way to clean up your data.



Each fundraising appeal offers you a glimpse into the engagement of your donors and the health of your database, and it gives you the ability to evaluate your own efforts. With the information you learn from an appeal evaluation, you’ll be poised for an even more successful appeal next time around.

For more tips, check our our ebook 6 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Appeal.

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