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Using data to improve your next fundraising event

Just like that, the Winter Olympics are over. Years of training, event planning and marketing gone in an instant (well, 16 days). Surely, everyone can relax now, right? Wrong. For those of you that work in fundraising events, you know that just because the event is over, it doesn’t mean the work is finished. Because now comes the hardest (and arguably most important) part of all—reflection and learning. If you do not take the time to celebrate your successes, acknowledge, and learn from your challenges, you are doing yourself and your team a disservice—not to mention missing out on some amazing future opportunities.

To reflect on your event, you need to know how well it performed. That means preparing for follow-up and learning right from the start. So set your KPIs well in advance, and make sure you have the tools in place to measure progress against them. Events fundraising is all about data, so make sure you are ready to collect it (and GDPR consent) through your fundraising CRM, website, social media, and feedback questionnaires.

Got data? Here’s how to use it

Let’s face it, as helpful as it is, data analysis can be quite daunting. The numbers are there. But understanding what they’re telling you isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you find your way through the analytical process.

STEP 1: Pin down your headline numbers

A good CRM will make it quick and easy for you and your team to get your arms around headline event numbers. As a baseline, you need to be able to measure:

Registration: How many people registered for your event

Attendance: The number of people that turned up on the day

Sales income: Gross transactional income

Donation income: Including average gift amounts

Return on investment: Income divided by investment, X100

STEP 2: Get to know your attendees

When you’re dealing with multiple CRM records it can be easy to forget you’re dealing with people. So, take a step back and look at what your data is telling you about the individuals that registered for, and attended your event. Key things to focus on:

Key demographics: The who, what, and where of event attendees.

Giving history: Perhaps they’re a long-term donor, or maybe they’ve never given to you before. Whatever their history, it’s important to understand who’s on your event books.

Attitudes and motivation: Recording notes, comments, and feedback can help deepen your understanding of supporter motivations.

Other trends and observations: You never know when you might spot a trend or make an insight you didn’t see coming. Keep an open mind and listen to what your data is telling you.

STEP 3: Dive into the detail

Never underestimate just how much you can learn from your data. It can feel overwhelming to begin with, but once you dive in, you’ll find new information and learning at every turn. If you can, use your CRM to rotate and manipulate your data from different angles, and (or) dive into your website and social media analytics so that you understand:

Response rates: Looking at your marketing communications before the event. Can you pinpoint the ad or content with the highest and lowest engagement?

Click-throughs: More than just about likes and shares, are your posts sending traffic where it needs to be (your website, ideally)? Does this change with content or time?

Attrition: Can you see how many people failed to complete the process and bounced before signing up for your event?

Barriers: Is there a particular point in the user journey that turned people off and could be streamlined or improved in the future?

STEP 4: Remember, the only failure is the failure to learn

So, you’ve got the numbers and made some snazzy charts. What’s next? Don’t just PDF it and file it away never to see the light of day again. Once you’ve got your data and insights, you need to share it—so put in some time with your team to reflect on the event and look at what your data is telling you. We don’t just mean a quick chat by the coffee machine. Whether on a virtual call or in-person, you’re going to want to devote some time and have a series of discussion points to guide the conversation and encourage critical reflection. Of course, you need to take some time to celebrate your success. But don’t be afraid to face the challenges head-on. If the numbers aren’t telling you what you want them to, ask yourself why.

It’s the only way to improve!

STEP 5: Get ready to adapt and evolve your plans

Group huddle is over, and now we’re looking forward. You’ve got so much insight and learning under your belt; all you need to do now is put it into practice. So, take a look at your events calendar and get ready to:

Build your key learnings into your next event communications strategy.

Re-connect with past attendees that might be interested in this new event.

Engage with your audience and tap into their key motivations.

Segment your data and tailor your marketing communications.

Streamline your user journey and make it easy to register, sign-up, pay, and donate.

Split test your content and keep on refining your recipe for success.

Boost response rates and bring down attrition.

Stop wasting time on ads, posts, and social activity you know won’t elicit much response.

Spend more efficiently and effectively on techniques and promotions that bring results.

In short, when it comes to learning and reflection, you need to find out what worked, and do more of it—without being afraid to drop what doesn’t. A good events fundraiser will keep on building and keep on moving forward, using each new event as a chance to build on the success—and failures—of the last.

If your CRM isn’t providing you with the data you need, let us show you how thankQ can help you!  Contact us to set up your personalized demo today!