Many fundraising managers rely on measuring fundraisers’ activity, i.e., how many phone calls an MGO makes, the number of face-to-face donor meetings each month, or the number of asks. The problem with action-based metrics is that they don’t demonstrate results, and they’re not indicative of a meaningful engagement with that donor.

Plus, when these kinds of metrics get forced on a fundraiser, it takes them away from the truly transformational relationship work that will bring long-lasting results to your organization.

So how should you measure performance in a fundraising role?

In this Question of the Month video, Jeff shares how we approach performance evaluations with our client fundraisers and the kinds of questions we ask in our coaching calls each week to help them stay on track and accountable to their plan. Check out the video or read the full transcript below!

Read the full transcript:

Jeff Schreifels:

Hey there, Jeff Schreifels here. Something’s been on my mind, so I wanted to address it in today’s Question of the Month video: how do you know if you’re using the right metrics to evaluate your fundraisers? Which metrics are the ones that actually matter?

In 2023, amidst financial concerns, I’ve noticed a troubling trend among non-profits. Instead of learning from the past, some are reverting to old metrics, squeezing frontline fundraisers with metrics that are not at all connected to increased giving from donors. It’s a cycle we seem to repeat whenever our sector faces financial pressure. But here’s the thing. Richard and I have been shouting from the rooftops about how these metrics can be downright useless, and damaging to fundraisers.

You know, many organizations focus on action-oriented metrics: face to face visits, call numbers, emails, and the like. They believe these actions mysteriously tie to revenue. But here’s the kicker. These metrics often create a focus on the money, not building relationships. And it gets worse. Instead of actually managing frontline fundraisers, some non-profit leaders believe that drowning them in metrics is the best approach. But it really fosters only an illusion of control. And it replaces genuine management with a checklist mentality.

So here’s my plea to non-profit leaders and managers out there. Please do not go back to evaluating and managing your fundraisers with these action-oriented metrics. If you do, your fundraisers will end up focusing on the metrics, not the donors. Trust me, I’ve spoken to fundraisers trapped in this metrics maze. They’re all about checking boxes to meet a target. Instead, they need to be focusing on building authentic relationships with donors, understanding their passions, and creating offers that bring them joy.

I also want to add here that after 2023, which was a challenging year for fundraisers, our clients are thriving. Why? Because we’re managing our frontline fundraisers properly, we meet with them weekly, keeping them focused and accountable to their strategic plans for every donor. We guide them in making meaningful contacts that move relationships forward, focusing on cash flowed revenue goals. When we evaluate our fundraisers at the end of the year, we’re not just looking at the numbers. We’re asking questions like, did they work their plan and how many meaningful connections did they make? Most of the time, not only do they meet or exceed their revenue goals, but also deepen their relationships with donors, finding joy in their work, and bringing the donor more joy through their giving.

Besides the revenue goal, these are the metrics that matter: relationships, joy, and success that goes beyond just the numbers. When you focus that way, the money always follows. Let’s continue to manage our fundraisers properly and prioritize what truly counts. Thank you for listening. And let’s make this a meaningful year of connections and real impact.

If you’d like to learn more about managing a successful fundraising program, check out our Certification Course for Fundraising Managers and Executives. This is a comprehensive training that will give you our best practices, tools, and resources to help you manage a thriving major gifts program.