After many years of analyzing nonprofits going into campaigns, we’ve seen three primary drivers for achieving substantial increases in production. Simply put these are who we see, how we see them, and who sees them. In other words portfolio composition for the frontline, more effective fundraiser activity, and larger, better aligned frontline fundraiser teams. Although portfolio optimization and staffing produce the greatest multiples, managers latch on to performance metrics above all else.

Most metrics systems come to be in one of two ways:

1. Benchmarking metrics systems of similar institutions.
2. New executive brings metrics system from previous organization.

Both of these approaches have inherent challenges. They evolve from confirmation bias. (Our peers raise lots of money—their system must have worked well. We were successful at my last place—our system must have worked well.) The results are often overly complex. And, primary among the challenges, is these approaches are unproven.  There must be a better way!

New Approach to Performance Metrics
An approach we’ve taken in recent years to much success is to actually study activity to determine what is working and not working. Our core methodology is to identify the high-performing fundraisers and compare their baseline activities to the rest of the team. The distinctions, when controlling for tenure and portfolio composition, inform activities that are the most effective for each institution. Rarely are these characteristics the same for organizations.

After determining the most effective metrics, it is important to refine focus to the two or three most distinguishing characteristics. These might be the ratio of solicitation visits to non-solicitation visits, portfolio reach, or ask levels. When refined to a small number, it is easier for the fundraiser to make day-to-day decisions.

When building metrics reports, we’ve found that clarity of context promotes self-governanceMore simply put, reports should compare each officer to the team numbers and to the top performers in the simplest form possible. Seeing the numbers in context of colleagues and aspiration will help the fundraiser consume the report and manage to their own outcomes.



Contact BWF today for insight into the drivers of your fundraising production. From portfolio optimization to performance metrics, and from predictive modeling to prospect research, Bentz Whaley Flessner is you total pipeline solution.

What’s Happening at Bentz Whaley Flessner
APRA’s Data Analytics Symposium
July 27–28, 2016
APRA’s 29th Annual International Conference
July 27–30, 2016

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Nashville, Tennessee

Transform philanthropy at your organization with strategies, tools, and tips presented by the Bentz Whaley Flessner team of experts at the sessions listed below.

Data Analytics Symposium
July 27, 2016
Josh Birkholz, specialty services practice leader, serves on the faculty panel of the Data Analytics Symposium and will present Establishing the Right Fundraiser Metrics. Andy Schultz, director of analytics, will co-present Challenges of Data Prep for Analysis.

Connect with Emma Hinke, BWF’s senior associate and APRA Data Analytics Symposium Moderator, on July 27, from 4:45 p.m.–5:30 p.m., after the sessions. She will be available to answer any of your questions from the days earlier sessions.

Optimize Prime: Prospect Management for Portfolio Reviews
Presented by Bond T. Lammey, Senior Associate
July 29, 2016, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Bond will discuss a variety of techniques and strategies involved in portfolio reviews, re-balances, and optimizations, with particular focus on the project management implications of regular portfolio reviews.

Using Disruptive Change to Drive Organizational Excellence
Co-presented by Bond T. Lammey, Senior Associate
July 29, 2016, 3:00–4:30 p.m.
This session will include a walk-through of two key business practices that were assessed and the strategies and tactics that were deployed to gain buy-in during Stanford’s database conversion. Stanford’s approach to overhauling contact reports and prospect strategies/solicitation approval will also be covered.

To hear about BWF’s new Total Pipeline Solution, please join us on Thursday, July 28, for one of our vendor seminars from 3:00 p.m.–3:45 p.m. or 4:15 p.m.—5:00 p.m. in the Magnolia Ballroom.

For more information on the Prospect Development Symposium and APRA’s 29th Annual International Conference, click here.

Together we transform philanthropy—contact us at (952) 921-0111 or visit or to learn more.


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