The famous ROI report and what it means

Return on investment (ROI) is important for any fundraising effort. But while many nonprofit executives preach the need for ROI, not as many understand the need for an ROI report.

During the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Annual Conference on Fundraising, Carrie Collins of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Pa., made a case for an ROI report. Collins said such a report is a critical measurement tool to aid organizational operations.

That said, what should be measured? Collins suggests the following:

  • Number of personal visits at the organization or at the prospect’s location. Further define: alumni (e.g.) and spouse, group meetings, chats at events, phone call or video with no visit.
  • Percent of unique visits. This is calculated by dividing the number of prospects visited by the number of visits made. Gift officers are most successful at 75 percent, he said.
  • Number of proposals submitted. A tiered approach works well: goals can be adjusted based on the level of prospects to which a gift officer is assigned. Get documentation that a gift officer asked a specific donor for a specific amount to support a particular project.
  • Number of gifts closed. This is not the most critical metric, but it can be crucial if the gift officer closes one significant gift and then thinks he can take a break.
  • Dollar amount of gifts closed. This is the monetary goal of new gifts and pledges committed during the year.
  • Assists or shared credit. This means two or more working together.