The joys of benchmarking

I can no longer deny it, I am a complete saddo. Because I like benchmarking. Give me a thick book of dense statistics on the fundraising programmes of different charities and I am very happy. At each of the organisations I have been fundraising director, one of the first things I have done (after finding money to invest in growth of course) has been to sign up the organisation to the Fundratios study or the Donorcentrics scheme or, if it’s WWF, both.

Funnily enough, each time I have left a charity, they have stopped participating in these studies. Which can only lead to one of two conclusions. Either I am completely mad or these organisations are missing out on something. Hmm, don’t answer that one…

Now you’d expect me to say this but I think it’s a real shame more charities don’t benchmark. I know all the reasons why not, it can be quite complicated, it will cost some (but not much) money and will certainly take up time from busy data and finance staff. But the benefits are tremendous.

I took part in the latest UK Donorcentrics benchmarking meeting recently . This is where a third party company takes very detailed fundraising data from each participating charity allowing WWF to see, for instance how our average gift per regular donor compares to MSF or Christian Aid. Unfortunately only ten or so charities took part. But f those of us that did were able to have an extremely rich discussion, looking at each others programmes and finding much we could learn from and implement in our charity.

I admit there was a certain amount of envious glances in the direction of MSF’s amazing donors (they give huge amounts and are extremely loyal) or UNICEF’s colossal number of new emergency donors in 2010. But it was also about raising questions for your own programme, why do we reactivate fewer of our lapsed donors than other very similar charities for instance.

I hope that in future years we can greatly increase the number of charities taking part in these studies. There’s really no good reason not to. Unless there’s nothing you can improve about your charity’s fundraising?

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