The following is a follow-up to the questions submitted during the December 16 webinar on driving more dollars to high-performing nonprofits with Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of GuideStar, and Greg Ulrich, director of advisory services at Hope Consulting. To view or hear a live recording of the presentation, please click here.
Q: Effectiveness data of course requires metrics. Were there any survey comments from responders on ideas for metrics?
Greg: Effectiveness requires us to understand how well organizations are performing relative to their mission and objectives. Donors do not appear to have strong perspectives
as to WHAT specific information they are looking for. They are open to facts from the organization as well as reviews from beneficiaries and experts (though not from the public, other donors, celebrities, etc). For nonprofits, we believe that it is most important to start to change the conversation to the impact you are having, and to start showcasing the information you do have. The perfect need not be the enemy of the good.
Bob: I am often asked how nonprofits can measure their effectiveness. As I have blogged about before, I often ask nonprofits to gauge their progress by answering three simple questions:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it? What are your programs and activities?
- And how are you doing? Is your organization having success in achieving its goals?
There are a variety of ways to include metrics in the answers to those questions, whether it’s seeking expert reviews from Philanthropedia, or reviews from being who have interacted with your nonprofit via Great Nonprofits, or the success measures you include in your Charting Impact report. Whatever the choice is, including specific measurements as well as anecdotal evidence is the best way of painting the entire picture of nonprofit effectiveness.
Q: Can you break out the motivation data for donors who make the decision to give to NEW causes?
Greg: Thank you for the question. Donors do have different behaviors for new vs. repeat donations. For instance, when asked if they would research a donation, 35% said they would research for a repeat donation, whereas 87% said they would research for a first-time donation (note: as these figures are asking about projected behavior, they are both overstated a bit, but give a sense of the relative difference in their desire to learn more about an organization). However, while the stated interest in research differs for new vs. repeat donations, we still find that when donors research they are doing it primarily to validate an organization, and they have the same general preferences for information, format and source, regardless of whether its for a first-time or repeat donation.
Bob: Money for Good II tells us that most of our giving is generated by requests– by friends and colleagues, by the person ringing the bell outside of their local big box store, by a neighbor who is running a marathon and needs a sponsor. While much of this is worth supporting – the act of giving is the act of caring – we can encourage donors to care about new causes if we shifted our focus to purposeful giving. The fact is that knowledge is power, and we can get more money to those nonprofits that are really making the most difference in their various focus areas, rather than just those with the biggest fundraising mechanisms. Research is a donor’s best bet to making sure his charitable gift is going to a high-performing nonprofit.