#Fundraising Moneyball: Track 3 Numbers that will Make You a Champ

[Publisher’s Note: This post is part of a series kindly contributed by guest authors who attended the 2016 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference. These posts share valuable insights from the Conference. This week, I thank Carrie Horton, Director of Content and Education at Kindful, for highlighting the seminar “Fundraising Moneyball: The Only Metrics that Matter in Digital Fundraising.”]


While freezing temperatures continue to chill many in the USA, the boys of summer have nevertheless returned for the start of the 2016 baseball season. What better way to mark the occasion than drawing a parallel between the baseball book and movie Moneyball and fundraising?

Okay, enjoying a hotdog and beer at a ballpark would be a better way to celebrate the start of the new baseball season. But, the second best way is to explore some of the highlights from Jeff Stanger’s session at the AFP International Fundraising Conference: “Fundraising Moneyball: The Only Metrics that Matter in Digital Fundraising.”

The book and movie Moneyball presented the true story of a revolutionary approach to baseball introduced by Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s. With a lean budget, he relied heavily on statistics, rather than personalities, to build a winning baseball team.

The Moneyball lesson for your nonprofit organization is that by leveraging statistical data, you can build a winning development program.

So, what statistics should you track? What goals should you set?

Carrie Horton, Director of Content and Education at Kindful, has identified three key points from the seminar that you need to know. Kindful is a nonprofit CRM software that offers powerful online fundraising tools, intuitive donor management, and comprehensive reporting analytics in one centralized data hub. Here’s what Carrie found most valuable from Stanger’s presentation:


If you’re anything like us at Kindful, when you hear the word “moneyball,” you think of Michael Lewis’s bestselling book and Brad Pitt’s killer acting. But thanks to the AFP International Fundraising Conference and Jeff MoneyballStanger’s impeccable session, we’ve got a new definition. Stanger’s session – “Fundraising Moneyball: The Only Metrics that Matter in Digital Fundraising” – sets forth a simple and straightforward digital strategy for nonprofit fundraising success. According to this renowned speaker and fundraising consultant from Cause Geek, it’s not rocket science, it’s statistics.

Stanger showed us that a successful digital fundraising strategy isn’t about trending on Twitter or gaining the most “likes” on Facebook. Instead, he urges nonprofits to focus on small steps taken with the insight of data and metrics behind them. Sustainable growth, Stanger says, comes through clear and simple goals that are easy to measure, quick to show return, and effectively reveal what works and what doesn’t.

What are the three goals that Stanger suggests you focus on? Again, Stanger’s recommendations are straightforward:

  1. Increase the number of subscribers to email
  2. Increase the number of volunteers
  3. Increase the number of monthly givers

Seems simple enough, right? These aren’t principles that are overly complex or hard to define. They’re straightforward and easy to measure. Even smaller nonprofits with limited funds and limited resources can achieve great success through a series of small victories.

But, where do you start? Well, if Stanger’s argument is that these goals are important because they are measurable metrics, then it only makes sense to start with metrics as well. We might be a bit biased (being the donor management provider that we are), but Kindful thinks that clean data and insightful metrics are at the heart of every successful digital fundraising strategy. However, don’t take our word for it. Here’s a quick breakdown of Stanger’s three goals and how an integrated CRM can help make you a fundraising champ:

Goal #1: Increase the number of subscribers to email

In a world where 95 percent of consumers use email and 91 percent check it at least once a day, the importance of growing your email marketing and distribution list is a no-brainer. In fact, Stanger mentioned that 75 percent of social media users still say that they prefer email communication! Email addresses provide you with a direct link to your audience and, when used wisely, help you cultivate donors who will be invested in your organization for years to come.

Want to build your email distribution list?

Pull a report to find out how many email addresses you have in your donor database. Integrate with your email-marketing provider to pull in stats related to how many people open your emails and click through them. Use data to understand what’s working (and what isn’t) and refine your strategy to send better emails and increase engagement. In other words, make sure your emails deliver value to recipients.

Goal #2: Increase the number of volunteers

Did you know that nearly 80 percent of volunteers donate to charity, compared to only 40 percent of non-volunteers? (Visit VolunteeringInAmerica.gov for more information.) It makes sense – those who are the most engaged with your organization will be the most likely to give financial support as well. And it’s not just that volunteers are most likely to donate…they’re most likely to raise money for your organization as well! Especially with the rising popularity of crowdfunding platforms, volunteers who engage through peer-to-peer fundraising don’t just bring in more money, they expand your audience.

Furthermore, over time, many volunteers will choose to donate in significant ways including through planned giving.

Want to build your volunteer base?

Look at all your donor data and discover who comes to the most events or who has already set up peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns on your behalf. Use data to find out how your audience is already engaging and how you can best encourage them to go deeper through volunteering. Ensure that the volunteer experience is meaningful and that volunteers are appreciated.

Goal #3: Increase the number of monthly givers

Monthly donors are the bread and butter of every successful organization. A consistent source of monthly income frees you up from planning your budget around seasonal giving lulls and fluctuating revenue. Even more, it pulls donors into long-term investment in your work. As Stanger mentioned during his AFP session, recurring donors are the most likely to deepen their involvement over time, leading to higher renewal rates (60 percent or higher), larger gifts, and additional donations on top of monthly support, including planned gifts. To watch a fun, short video about the benefits of monthly giving programs, click here.

Want to build your monthly-donor program?

Look at your database for the giving history of your contacts and find those who have given at least one gift in the last year. Use data to identify past donors and begin a donor cultivation strategy that will secure consistent donors committed to the life of your organization.

When it comes to your donor CRM, the key is unity – unity of all your different data points into one central hub. Identify where all your information is coming in – email marketing services, blog subscriptions, that huge stack of business cards gathering dust on your desk – and get it all flowing into your donor database. Whether it’s through direct data entry or a built-in integration between your CRM and fundraising tools, centralized data is the first step in understanding the full picture of your nonprofit audience and cultivating them to be more engaged. Integrated data tells the story of your nonprofit and positions you to make informed decisions that will meet your goals.


Henry David Thoreau, the 19th century philosopher, wrote:

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at.”

To hit our targets and be fundraising champions, we need to set meaningful, measurable goals if we want to achieve great things. To set appropriate goals, we need good data. To track our progress toward those goals, we need good data. To evaluate what is working and what is not, we need good data. As Stanger suggests, using solid metrics is one powerful key to fundraising success.

To download the slides from Stanger’s seminar, click here.

That’s what Carrie Horton and Michael Rosen say… What do you say?

6 Comments to “#Fundraising Moneyball: Track 3 Numbers that will Make You a Champ”

  1. Great post!

    This made me smile both as a nonprofit fundraiser and avid Red Sox fan.

  2. Well, as a Phillies Fan, I’m kind of frozen, going 0-3 to start the season. But with the advice in your column, I think fundraisers can go 3-0. Great column once again.

    • Steve, thanks for commenting. Regarding the Phillies, I share your pain. I’m glad we had the distraction this week of the Villanova Wildcats. Maybe the Phillies will start winning next week. Let’s hope. Sigh.

  3. Michael, thanks for this reminder. I think it really helps to have a few key measurable items to focus on. And thanks for resending the video. I have enjoyed it before, and it is still a goodie:-). Take care.

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