Is Analyzing Year-End Numbers For Your Nonprofit Just A Distraction?

This is another strange January. Just as we thought we were out of the worst of the pandemic we are living with more cases of Coronavirus in our lives. We are all impacted by the surge whether it is in our immediate family (I hope you and yours are all well) or simply that buildings are closed, and we are back to days filled with Zoom meetings.

I find that it is sometimes hard to set aside blocks of time to concentrate on higher level projects. I think of Dug, the dog in the Pixar movie, UP, that gets distracted mid-sentence by squirrels. For me, the “squirrels” (read: calls/emails/kids/Apple Watch alert/dog/noise outside/truck passing 3 streets over/idea that I may have to reorder coffee/etc.) that I used to be able to ignore, now grab my attention faster than I can blink. But I still need to get things done. Things like analyzing year-end numbers before the end of January.

Here are some statistics to create for your nonprofit if you are analyzing year-end numbers.  And something to return to when you realize you have spent too long looking out the window at the squirrels.

Understanding annual fund trends are essential when planning for the next year. How can you create realistic goals or targets for segments if you don’t know where you currently stand. Now is a good time to calculate:

  1. Your month over month for 2020 vs 2021. Yes, 2021 was unusual. But so was 2020. It’s unclear when we will have the next “normal” year. It is time to plan for the unexpected each and every year. And you should start with your actual data.
  2. What percentage of your donations came in during December? I think it is a valuable data point when analyzing year-end numbers.
  3. Your basic donor statistics including: * If you are unsure how to do this get in touch
    • Percent of donor retention
    • Number of donors who increased their gift
    • Number of donors who decreased their gift
  4. How did your letters, emails, phone calls, social media posts, etc. impact your donations? Was one letter more successful than another? Did one topic or aspect of your end-of-year campaign attract a higher response? Has your social media affected your site traffic?
  5. Your major donors year-over-year including:
    • How many major donors did you retain? You want it to be higher than your average donor retention rate since you are spending more time focused on this group.
    • How you interacted with each donor to upgrade/ retain the gift and whether it had an impact (a good contrast is to pick someone who didn’t get the same love and attention without judgements. It’s hard to reach everyone with limited time and resources)
    • What you should plan for this year based on what provided a great return on your time/energy investment and what did not. Be honest. You may have loved your social media reminders but did they help increase results?
  6. What big projects you want to accomplish in 2022.
    • Are you thinking about a capital/endowment campaign?
    • Was your annual fund all it needed to be in 2021?
    • Do you need to talk to MJA about your needs (I thought I would throw that in here since it is our blog)

If to you, this blog was another squirrel, as a distraction from doing something else, it can be justified. Use it to help you analyze your year-end results.

If you want a real distraction, here is the first scene from the Pixar movie, UP, that started the squirrel meme.