In our last article we explored the fundamentals of fundraising, including why fundraising is so important for disability service agencies and the five basic types of fundraising you can use to raise money for your organization.
No matter which type you choose, it’s important to think about how you will measure what you accomplish as a result of donations. Donors want to know where their money is going and what it’s being used for, and they’re more likely to give again if they feel their donation had an impact. So before you compile a grant proposal or begin a capital raise endeavor, it’s important to identify the KPIs you will use to communicate your results and show the impact of giving to your organization.
KPI stands for “key performance indicator”. As the name suggests, KPIs are measurements that indicate your organization’s progress toward specific objectives. KPIs give staff a focus for their efforts, and help leaders make more informed strategic decisions. For example, if your goal is to serve 100 consumers, then your KPI would be the number of consumers.
KPIs can look different across different companies, but all KPIs share some commonalities. More specifically, they should always be:
Now that we have a definition, let’s look at some fundraising KPIs that disability service agencies might use to demonstrate their impact, starting with the most basic.
This is the rawest metric you’ll use to measure impact. Tracking the number of individuals served is helpful for donors to understand how many people your organization touches. You can use this number to determine if more people are utilizing your services, and check for an increase in individuals served year-over-year. If you want to go deeper, you can break this number down by program or funding source.
In addition to the number of individuals served, your donors will want to know who their gift is helping. You can show this by tracking the gender, age distribution, and ethnicity of your participants. In addition to communicating who your organization benefits, these metrics will allow you to identify underserved demographics as well as check for progress on diversity and inclusion.
Along the same lines, your donors might want to know which types of disabilities your agency serves. Maybe they have a friend or family member who has cerebral palsy, for example, and want to contribute to organizations that benefit people with CP. Having a personal connection to your organization’s work is one of the most common reasons people donate.
This KPI can also help you qualify for grants related to specific disabilities, such as Autism Speaks grants for service providers. And, it can help you identify different federally-funded programs, such as the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program, that help you reach individuals with other types of disabilities.
Perhaps you want to locate grant opportunities for disadvantaged areas, or contact political representatives for underserved communities where a stronger voice and more funding is needed. In that case, you might choose to track the counties or legislative districts in which you support the most people.
Client satisfaction takes into consideration how happy clients are with the services they’ve received, and whether those services are helping them achieve their desired outcomes. Pre- and post-surveys can help you assess whether services and supports are meeting client preferences. Progress toward individual goals and skills development is another way to measure what a successful experience looks like. Combining this KPI with client stories can make your message even more powerful.
Naturally, donors want to know that their gift is being put to good use. Tracking billability is one way to measure how much of your staff’s time is being spent directly serving clients. It’s an important indicator of your organization’s overall efficiency.
To track this KPI, look at the amount of time your staff is spending on billable vs. non-billable (administrative) tasks. A decrease in the number of hours spent on non-billable tasks over time means that your agency is becoming more efficient at serving your clients, which is something your donors will want to see.
The guardianship status KPI provides you with a look at the number of individuals in your programs who have a guardian or conservator. With appropriate supports, many individuals with disabilities are able to take care of their own lives without a guardian. By knowing how many participants are their own guardian and how that number changes over time, potential donors can see how your agency is advancing supported decision-making and helping people with disabilities direct what happens in their own lives.
Residence type is another simple KPI that can help measure whether your services are helping individuals achieve greater independence. Does the individual live alone, with a roommate, or with family? Do they receive support in their home? This is valuable data you can use to demonstrate how you provide people with the support needed to live their best lives.
If your agency provides employment services, you may want to track how much of your participants’ income is generated from different sources. By breaking down these various income sources — employment, SSI, Title II (SSDI), and so on — you can show donors how your services are helping participants become more self-sufficient.
As an employment service provider, you (and your donors) will likely want to know how many individuals you helped secure jobs. A good way to measure this is to track the number of new job placements, and determine if this KPI is increasing over time. If you want to go a step further, you might also track other metrics associated with their job search as well, such as the number of employers contacted and the duration of their job search.
Tracking participants’ wages helps you know how much the individuals you serve are earning. What is the average wage of your participants, and are wages increasing over time? It’s a great indicator of your staff’s effectiveness with their current resources, and can help make a compelling case for further donations to your organization.
In addition to tracking new job placements and wages, you might also want to track length of time in position. In other words, how long are participants staying at their job? Length of time in position is a great KPI to show potential donors your agency’s long-term impact on individuals and the community.
Many donors or grantmakers will want to know much of your funding comes from public support versus other sources before they make an investment. Why? For one, individual donors and corporations will likely want to write off their donations. If you qualify as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — meaning you receive at least a third of your funding from the public — then donations made to your organization are tax-deductible. If not, donors will not be able to write off their donation as a tax deduction. Likewise, some grants are only available to organizations that have a 501(c)(3) status.
Savvy donors are not only interested in how much money you’re raising, but how efficiently you’re able to raise it. Your cost ratio (also known as cost-per-dollar raised) provides you with an easy way to show how much money you’ve raised compared to the costs of your fundraising efforts.
To track this KPI, you take your fundraiser’s expenses divided by its revenue. For example, if you host a charity auction that costs $45,000 and brings in $132,000, then your cost ratio is $45,000/$132,000 = $0.34. In other words, you spend 34 cents for every dollar raised at the charity auction.
On the flip side, return on investment — ROI for short — measures what impact you get for your fundraising dollars. A simple ROI calculator will help explain what you are getting in return for your efforts. It’s your net revenue divided by costs of investment multiplied by 100 to produce a percentage. Using the example above, $132,000/$45,000 = 2.93 x 100 = 293% ROI.
These 15 fundraising KPIs are just a sampling of some of the ways disability service agencies can measure their impact. Not all of these KPIs will be relevant to your organization specifically, and there may be other KPIs that you want to track that are not on this list. Different agencies will want to track different KPIs depending on the programs they offer and their fundraising goals, but it can be difficult to know exactly which KPIs you should be using.
There are two parts to this challenge: identifying the right KPIs, and being able to track them. There are a few questions you can ask yourself when determining how you will measure impact:
From there, you can begin putting a system like SETWorks in place that helps you track the data and report on key metrics. With software designed specifically for the disability service industry, all your data will be stored in one place instead of spread out across a CRM, spreadsheets, and paper files. But SETWorks does more than store all that information; it allows you to analyze and present it in a clear and understandable way. When the time comes to make the “ask” for a donation or grant, you’ll be armed with the data you need to build your case and ensure the best chances of success.
In our next article, we’ll share how to actually put that information into a proposal in a way that makes your request stand out. Be sure to subscribe to be notified when that article goes live!
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