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Nonprofit Fundraising: Tracking the Details - Oz du Soleil


In my previous blogpost, Nonprofit Fundraising: The Cost of $1, we looked at a fundraising campaign that generated $2026.02 after laying out $1099 in expenses for a net gain of $927.02; and we determined that it cost 54¢ to raise every dollar. Good? Bad? We don’t know. That depends on a lot of other factors that the nonprofit would have to determine.

Numbers like $1099 and $927 seem miniscule, especially when a “small nonprofit” is considered have gross receipts of up to $1M. A lot of nonprofits exist on far far less than $1M.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 427,333 nonprofits with total revenue of less than $100K. That’s 27.3% of all nonprofits in the US. For these organizations $927 is a big deal.

Today, we’ll expand this conversation on nonprofit data management and fundraising, and look at other data that  can help us

  • Decide of the campaign was successful
  • Decide if the effort and expense were worth the $927.02 that was gained
  • Expose any surprises about the constituency
  • Predict the success of future campaigns
  • Learn what to do and what not to do in the future
  • Use the 54¢ spent to raise each dollar and compare it against other fundraising efforts.

NOTE: One change from the previous blogpost is that I added dates to the dataset below so that we can look deeper than the cost of raising a dollar.

raise one dollar 2

A hypothetical fundraising campaign that earned $927.02 and cost the nonprofit organization 54¢ to raise each dollar.


Below is a graphic of an Excel dashboard that summarizes key aspects of the direct mail fundraising effort. I’ll break this down in a future blogpost, showing use of Excel tables, the LARGE and MEDIAN functions, and the graphs that update in real time as we add or delete bits of information. Today, let’s focus on basic analysis.

Take a moment to review what you see in this dashboard and the stories it’s telling. Are there any questions that come up or concerns that should be looked at?

NP Campaign Tracking

Simple dashboard summarizing key facts about a nonprofit’s fundraising campaign

To see how to make the Donation Totals & Count graph, see this short YouTube video (2:32)
Graphing 2 Pieces of Data on 1 Chart (Excel Secondary Axis)


  • The Return Rate of 9.4% is higher than the typical rate of 4 – 6%. Our constituents love us!
  • The typical (Median) donation was $30. ($13.11 below the arithmetic average)
  • August brought in a surprising $110 … oh! That was a single donation.
  • The campaign is pretty much done.
    • Just 1 donation was made in July and 1 more in August.
  • The campaign launched mid-April and donations were almost 0 by the end of June.
  • There are 26 addresses to either clean up or delete because they were returned undelivered.
  • 5 donations accounted for
    • one-third of the total generated and
    • two-thirds of the amount needed to break even
  • We got lucky! Had the Return Rate been a normal 6%, at the generous Average Donation of $43.11 the result would have been $1293.30 a whole $194.30 left over after expenses.


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 Without tracking and solid data management, there’s risk of sending out mail again to the 26 addresses that were non-deliverable.

 We see that our constituents typically donate $30 therefore, if w’ere planning a special event they may not spend $100 for a ticket.

 If we use the Average Donation instead of the Median Donation to plan future fundraising, the break-even points would be wrong and the forecasting irresponsibly optimistic.

 Remember: we got lucky! Without reviewing the data, another campaign might result in a typical 4 % to 6% response rate and a net loss.


Analysis of the data can go on forever. The point is that it’s not time to celebrate once the dust settles and the bank account has grown by almost $1000. There is a lot of information available about who our constituents are, how responsive and engaged they are, and the levels at which they’re willing to give. If a future direct mail campaign is done, those numbers can be compared against these, allowing us to look at trends in addition to isolated fundraisers.

So, manage your data and track your activities!