Benchmarking: The non-profit sector requests your assistance!

Last week a friend and non-profit consulting colleague of mine, Kirsten Bullock, sent an email asking me to encourage DonorDreams blog readers to participate in a study that “. . . is investigating charitable contributions, fundraising methods, donor retention, and how tactics have changed in these challenging financial times.”

This study is organized and run by Nonprofit Research Collaborative. If you are someone who is suspicious of things like this, then I encourage you to click the link that I just provided and check this organization out for yourself. However, if you don’t have a lot of time to scratch around the internet, take heart in the fact that this organization and the study are supported by:

  • Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Giving USA
  • blackbaud
  • National Center for Charitable Statistics
  • Campbell Rinker

If you have 10 minutes, then please click this link and complete the questionnaire.

Still asking yourself . . . WHY?

If you are still reading, then I assume that you’re mulling things over and probably wondering why you should click that link.  So, let me try to make the case in one simple word:


According to our friends at Wikipedia, “benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries.”

Let’s be honest for a moment. Few people who work in the non-profit sector have time to collect data and crunch industry numbers. We’re under-resourced, and we’re usually thankful when our workday comes in under 12 hours.

So, when an organization like Nonprofit Research Collaborative takes up the cause and only asks for 10 minutes of your time, all of us should really support the cause.

Still not convinced? OK, let me try this another way . . .

  • At the end of the year, some of you will report to your board of directors that your donor loyalty rate is 64.8% . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.
  • At the end of your annual campaign, some of you will report to your board of directors that of the 100 prospects and donors who received face-to-face solicitation visits by staff and volunteers 78 of them decided to make a pledge or contribute . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.
  • At the end of the year, some of you will report to your board that your private sector fundraising efforts brought in 1% fewer dollars this year than last year . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.

In order to answer your board’s questions, you need to provide context and that is what benchmarking is all about.

Every organization should commit itself to benchmarking activities. You should do it with your program outcomes. You should do it with your resource development program. You should do it with board development and so many other things that you do.

Not doing so essentially means that you’re collecting data for the sake of collecting data.

I assume that you don’t have the time to independently do benchmarking of the non-profit sector for comparison purposes. So, come on . . . what do you say? How about taking 10 minutes out of your crazy busy schedule, click this link, and complete this important survey.

Pretty please?  🙂

Has your organization ever completed a benchmarking project with another non-profit organization? Or how about with another company from a different sector? If so, please tell us about it in the comment box below. We’d love to know what motivated you and what you found out.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on August 28, 2012, in Fundraising, nonprofit, organizational development, Planning, resource development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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