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While there is a lot of focus on metrics surrounding driving contacts to a giving event page, what many fundraisers lose sight of is the importance of learning from donor behaviors once they arrive. This is especially true as nonprofits continue to diversify their marketing channels to include social, email, phone, direct mail, etc. Tracking the ROI of your messaging relative to the behaviors of visitor segments is essential to maximizing the impact you have on your end results.

Whether you’re using tools like Google Analytics or the reporting dashboard on giving day technology like ours, here are the five most important metrics you should be set up to track before launch:


Unique Visitors

Unique visitors is a metric that aggregates activity generated by the same user into a single session count. Simply put, no matter how many pages a user visits, it’s still calculated as 1 unique visitor.

Using the unique visitor metric you can determine how many people came to your site relative to the amount who donated to calculate a basic conversion percentage for gifts (we detail a more advanced method later). You can even drill down and evaluate this metric for each Crowdfunding or Giving Day project you featured on your main platform page.

This metric can also be helpful when tracking the popularity of certain fundraising stories, helping you to hone in on visitor affinities. While you can try to track this with donations, it doesn’t paint a holistic picture. For example, someone may visit a campaign page and share it with their friends instead of donating. They may peruse several projects that are of interest but only donate to one.

Analyzing this metric over time will allow you to track the growth of long-term giving programs like crowdfunding platforms and general giving forms.

Traffic Source

This is the basis for understanding the first piece of the puzzle: which of your outreach methods are most effective? Understanding the percentage breakdown of who came to your page from what source is crucial to everything that follows.

You can set yourself up for success by utilizing UTM tracking codes or tracking links to segment your traffic.

A tracking link is an addendum to the end of a URL that allows analytics programs to track visitors by source, medium, and campaign name.  You can create these for free using Google’s Campaign URL Builder, for a price using link shorteners like Bitly, or through your online giving platform provider.

These are extremely useful for tracking both your online and offline activities.

For online, let’s say you’re posting on twitter once a week for 5 weeks to get people to visit your semester-long alumni challenge. Using your tracking link, you can see which messaging and timing was most effective to replicate it across other social platforms.

For offline, let’s pretend you’re running a PR campaign through your campus newspaper and sending direct mail to current students and alumni. If you give everyone the same link, you’ll have no idea which articles drove what traffic or which populations were more likely to visit. However, if you use tracking codes you’ll be able to tag traffic for each separate article and direct mail population that can include the date each was published/sent and even the name of the particular story or initiative you’re pointing towards.


Average Time on Page VS Exit Rate

Understanding where users are spending more time, and where they are exiting, means you can make adjustments to maximize engagement. Average time on page is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Exit rate is the percentage of visitors who actively click away to a different site from a specific page.

Average time on page is an excellent way to evaluate your on-page content. For example:

  • If you have more than 20 projects on a giving event page, you can measure how many people are truly looking through all of them.
  • If you notice that users are spending a large amount of time on your FAQ page, you may not be being upfront enough about the purpose of your fundraising or your donation flow isn’t user-friendly.
  • You can deduce if your campaign updates are helpful in creating donations based on time spent viewing or reading them.

The reason that exit rate is so important to evaluate in conjunction with average time on page is that it directly affects what is being measured. Most analytics programs (including Google) count the time on a page when people exit as zero, and so remove people who exit from the average time on page calculation to reduce skew. This is the typical formula:

Avg Time on Page = Time on Page / ( Pageviews – Exits)

If a page does not have a high exit rate, then the average time should be accurate. With a higher exit rate, you should have less confidence in the average metric because the average is based on only the portion of total users that went on to visit another page.


Conversion Rate of Goals

In order to track conversion rates, you must first set up what many analytics programs call “goals.” A goal represents a desired activity you want users to complete, resulting in what’s called a conversion. Goals can be applied to specific pages your users visit, how many pages/screens they view in a session, how long they stay on your site, or even what elements they interact with while they’re there.

Examples of goals for fundraising usually include donating or sharing a particular initiative but can be built out to include things such as watching a video or even reading through an update.

As a typical example, let’s say that one goal of your Giving Day page is to have people click the “share” button and spread the word on social media. To set up your goal, you would first define what a conversion would look like. In this case, it might be someone who reaches the Thank you for sharing! page, indicating they have gone all the way through the sharing process.

Because this is what’s called a destination goal you can even specify the path you expect traffic to take to get there. This path is called a funnel. In this example, you might say that you expect someone to (1) land on your main Giving Day page, (2) click the top nav share button and be taken to the sharing options page, and (3) select their sharing options and reach the thank you page.

When you specify steps in a funnel, analytics programs can record where users enter and exit the funnel on the way towards your goal. This helps you see if the path you expect them to take is how they’re actually getting to the end result.

In this example you might find people are not coming from the top nav button on your main page, meaning they’re getting to the sharing preferences page from somewhere else such as through share links on individual projects.

The great thing about goals is that you can tie them back to the traffic source and track codes you set up at the beginning.

This will definitively show you which of your efforts have the greatest ROI!

Katie Haystead

Katie Haystead

Senior Vice President, Partnerships

With over a decade of experience working with K12 schools and higher education institutions’ fundraising efforts, Katie Haystead now oversees the partnerships team at Community Funded. Her passion for partner success and satisfaction aligns with Community Funded’s priorities and Katie’s unique background is well suited to manage the day to day operations of our partnerships team as well as new market acquisition.

Prior to joining the team at Community Funded, Katie served many roles within the Fundraising Division at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Her experience ranges from working onsite and remotely with clients executing phonathon programs, developing annual giving strategies, onsite consultations and also developing multichannel strategies allowing for strong synergy between annual giving channels and creating strong major and planned gift pipelines.

Katie is based in Metro Detroit and is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she worked for the phonathon for 3 years while working towards her History Major.

Kim Jennings

Kim Jennings

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Kim Jennings, CFRE is a skilled fundraising leader who believes in the power of Christian education to raise up thoughtful, strong, committed leaders who can make our world a better place for all.

Kim Jennings

Todd Turner

Director of Digital Strategies, Generis

In addition to his 11 years overseeing Chuck Swindoll’s Insight Living Ministries communications department, Todd Turner has worked as a digital strategist for faith based organizations across the globe..

Kim Jennings

Jennifer Perrow

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Jennifer is a skilled fundraising and communications professional who helps ministries articulate vision, communicate mission, and raise abundant funds to advance Kingdom priorities.