How to Get Ready for Annual Reporting

     It’s the second week of the new year. It’s time to start gathering the data you need to report on last year’s results. Perhaps you are preparing for a financial audit. Maybe you are putting together an annual report. Or you are possibly getting ready to conduct performance reviews. In any case, you must assemble the data you need to complete the tasks at hand. Hopefully you’ve been collecting it throughout the year.

When to Collect Data

     Waiting to collect all the data you need until the time comes audit, summarize or report on it is not a best practice.  A mad dash for data results in time inefficiencies. Important work may be set aside as you search for long-forgotten information. Sometimes you or your staff end up staying late at the office to finish urgent tasks that were set aside to hunt for old materials. You may need to impose on other people to immediately help you. Which may ruffle feathers and result in poor attitude or low morale issues. You also run the risk of ending up with incomplete information.

     It is much easier to collect data as you go along rather than long after the actions have concluded when memories are fuzzy and people have moved on. Build processes and procedures for gathering needed data into your operations, rather than thinking of evaluation as something that is tacked on at the end. So, now is the time to determine what data you need will need at the end of the year and build collection of that data into your regular operations.

Data to Collect

     In addition to producing reports, collecting fundraising, marketing, and financial data and analyzing the metrics can help you budget realistically, make resource allocation decisions, set and meet fundraising goals, benchmark performance, evaluate results, and help you formulate solutions when outcomes are less than optimal. Further, the objectivity intrinsic to numerical measurements supports data-based decision-making. Data-based decisions exude credibility, enhancing your position as leader of your agency.

     The fundraising data you need to track includes, at a minimum:

  • Fundraising goals
  • Donor contact information
  • Donor types (individual, foundation, business, etc.)
  • Donation dates
  • Donation amounts
  • Gift method (check, credit card, stock, real estate, etc.)
  • Asking method (personal solicitation, direct mail, email, phone, etc.)
  • Event attendances

     In addition to fundraising data, to conduct a thorough review of your fundraising effectiveness, you need marketing data. You will gather marketing statistics from Google Analytics or other tracking software, your email provider, and your social media platform. Marketing information to gather includes:

  • Website visitor types (unique, organic, paid, etc.)
  • Landing page visits
  • Time on website pages
  • Emails sent by campaign
  • Email open rates
  • Email click-through rates
  • Email bounce rates
  • Email response rates
  • Social media followers by channel
  • Social media postings by channel
  • Dates of social media postings
  • Social media likes by posting
  • Social media shares by posting
  • Responses to questionnaires and surveys
  • Conversion rates

     The end goal is to analyze how your marketing and fundraising efforts affected your financial results. You are trying to raise money, after all. You will assemble financial data from your nonprofit’s financial records, such as budgets, audits, and 990s. Important financial figures related to fundraising to assemble include:

  • Fundraising revenues by campaign
  • Donor recruitment expenses
  • Fundraising costs by campaign by line item
  • Development department direct costs by line item
  • Development department indirect costs by line item

Timetable for Reviewing Data

     You should also think about how often information will be evaluated: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, annually, biannually, or longer. Sometimes annual reporting is not enough. For example, performance evaluation and feedback is much more effective if it is done on an ongoing basis rather than once a year. And finances needs to be reviewed at least weekly, if not daily. As an executive director, I monitored finances and analyzed them almost daily. I looked at progress toward the goals in our strategic plan monthly. I brought out my communications plan semiannually. Whatever your schedule, just make sure you review data as often as you need to meet your daily, monthly, quarterly, semiannual, and annual goals.

Next Steps

     Let’s talk about where your nonprofit is in its evaluation and fundraising journey and what your next steps are.  You’re invited to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session with me.  During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action. I look forward to speaking with you!

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