As I write this post during the final few weeks of the calendar year, my thoughts turn to evaluation. This is a time of year when many organizations evaluate their fundraising success. It can also be a time to evaluate program success, board and staff success, and yes, even personal success.

As I’ve shared in the past (when writing about year-end fundraising), you can set fundraising goals and evaluate impacts by many metrics, not just total dollars raised. For example, you could evaluate:

  • Number of thank you calls to donors
  • Number of new potential donors with whom you have conversations
  • Number of new gifts that your organization secures
  • Number of repeat gifts (gifts from previous donors) that your organization secures
  • Number of board members who add your organization to their email signature, post something on social media about your organization, or send handwritten letters to previous or potential donors


A recent DonorPerfect post shared some other metrics, such as:

  • Meaningful donor interactions, visits, and gift conversations
  • Social media and other ad impressions to build awareness
  • Email open rates
  • ROI on fundraising activities and events – what is your ratio for dollars spent to dollars raised?
  • Number of year-end donors retained from last year
  • Average gift amount
  • Number of new monthly donors


Examining the total amount of money raised in a given year, or during your organization’s year-end campaign, is an important metric. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t help you understand if your organization is bringing in new donors while retaining the donors you already have. It doesn’t tell you which of your donor communications are effective and which are not (so you can set new priorities accordingly.) It doesn’t tell you if you are saying thank you enough, if you are using social media to its best advantage, if you are encouraging long-time donors to increase their gifts… the list goes on.

If your organization adjusts the ways that it evaluates fundraising, it gets a fuller, richer picture of the entire operation, and it learns things to help you draw more donors and more dollars in the future. What if you applied this fresh evaluation lens to other parts of your organization — Programs? Staff? Board? Communications?

And, what if you turned that lens inward? When you look back on the past 12 months, instead of *only* looking at whether or not you made it to the gym as much as you’d hoped, grew more patient with your kids or partner, wrote in a journal every day, cut out junk food… and so many of the other resolutions we make around birthdays, New Year’s Day, etc., what if you evaluated differently? What if you focused on quantity AND quality? What if you evaluated not just what you did (or didn’t) do, but how you felt or changed?

If you evaluated differently, what sorts of questions would you ask?

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