evaluationEvaluation requires you to put pen to paper.

You fill out the worksheets and uncover your numbers. Now what?

Let’s look at some key indicators and what they tell us.

First let’s look at the big picture.

Overall, did you bring in more money in 2013 than in 2012?

If not, do you know why?

Did you lose a big donor, grant, or have a special event that wasn’t as successful as planned?

Once you know what happened and why, what will you do differently in 2014 and is that in your plan?

Do you need to build more relationships?

Yes, of course!

As you make and evaluation of the numbers, try to avoid excuses or blaming. The numbers are our reality…unbiased…good or bad. They are a tool to help us make better choices and improve. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Next, let’s look at the breakdown of where the money came from in 2013.

How much was from individuals, corporations, and grants?

The national average is 85% of giving comes from individuals. If your number is less and you’d like more and bigger gifts from individuals, then what will you differently this year?

Did most of your individual giving come from special events? What happens if that event is not successful for some reason? Look at your 2014 plan and see where the focus is for all your activities. If you need to grow your major gifts program, but all your energy and activities are focused on corporate gifts and grants, it will be nearly impossible to be successful. Special events aren’t a good method to get major gifts from individuals. Where you spend your time and what you focus on will be where you see results so plan carefully.

Now let’s look at your donor detail.

How do the number of donors in 2013 compare to 2012?

Hopefully you had more, but if not why and what do you need to do differently?

What was your donor retention rate?

The average is 60%, so if you’re not there yet set a goal to increase it by 10% or 20% and determine what steps it will take to increase it.

What is your average gift size in 2013 vs. 2012? What is a “normal” average gift varies depending on the organization.

If yours is a young organization or if you have a budget under $100,000, then $25-50 may be an average gift. For older organizations with more staff and larger budgets, an average gift of somewhere between $100-500 is more likely.

Whatever the number is, know it and set a goal to increase it, and have a plan how to achieve that increase.

Last week I met with a client and we spent a couple hours going over their evaluation worksheets and the 2014 plan. This organization got 49% of their income from special events. Their goal is to grow their major gifts program, but very little time is being spent on that activity.

My suggestion is that the Executive Director spend 25-50% of her time each day and each week on activities that will grow their major gifts program and put specific action items to do it on her calendar.

To be successful and to improve your fundraising, you have to make an honest evaluation of your numbers and know where your starting point is.

Next, you need to set your goals for where you want to be at the end of the year.

From there, you develop a plan with concrete steps to achieve those goals. Then, you work the plan each and every day and stay focused.

It won’t happen overnight, but you should start seeing some noticeable results within a month or two.