Measuring online fundraising success. 7 KPIs every charity should track

Simona Lazeu
Min to read

While understanding and measuring big data can be time-consuming and daunting, ignoring it is no longer a solution. Data is power. No matter what sector we are in, what goals we have or who our target audience is, we must work with data. Why? Because it helps us to make better decisions, gives us direction, and brings light into the darkness.  

In the nonprofit sector data is as important as in any other. An organisation will not go to the next level if the employees fail at understanding what brought them to the current point, and which areas can they influence. There are numerous examples of how charities can use data, but in the current economic climate, where budgets are being cut to the bone, online fundraising has become an area of special interest for nonprofits.  

So, which are those specific metrics that a charity should track to better succeed with online peer-to-peer fundraising? The answer is in the graphic below. The image is actually a logic scheme that includes seven of the most important KPIs, and how they connect.  

KPIs for online P2P fundraising, and how they connect

1. Total amount fundraised in a time period

The total amount fundraised is the the most obvious KPIs in online fundraising. It is basically the sum of all amounts collected by your fundraisers. And here by “fundraisers” we understand charitable initiatives created by a private person or a company, for a charitable organisation.  

To estimate the total amount fundraised for a certain time period we use the formula:  

Total amount fundraised = Number of fundraisers * Average amount fundraised/person  

This means that, the total amount fundraised can be influenced either by getting more fundraisers (no. of fundraisers) or by increasing the average amount collected by a fundraiser (average amount fundraised).

2. Number of fundraisers created in a time period

The second metric that we consider highly important is the number of fundraisers created for your organisation. If you follow this metric for a couple of months, you will be able to calculate an average and, by multiplying it with the average amount fundraised, you can estimate the amount expected to be collected in a certain time period—a month, a quarter, a year. That’s how fundraising estimations are made.  

In order to grow the number of fundraisers, one can develop campaigns to convert the existing donors, members, volunteers or the website visitors, and the social media followers, into fundraisers. It is recommended to send email campaigns to existing supporters and encourage them to start a fundraiser. This emails can be pre-event reminders (pre-birthday, pre-charity-run etc) or simple messages explaining how they can multiply their impact by starting a fundraising page.  

Another benefit of tracking this metric is that you can compare how different projects and fundraiser types are performing, and which type of campaigns are more appealing to your network.

3. The average self donation

Self-donations are not only a strong predictor of success for a peer-to-peer fundraiser, but they are also a crucial metric for overall results. Having a system in place to ensure large self-donations will give your fundraising results a solid foundation from which to grow. This approach is more predictable and will more closely align with the number of participants than the amount of money raised.

4. Active fundraisers

From our experience, quite a surprising number of people get excited about the idea of online fundraising, so they create a page, upload a picture, write about their motivation, and maybe even share the fundraiser a couple of times; but they still don’t receive any donations. That’s discouraging! And, as not everyone is a professional fundraiser, people get stuck and don’t know what to do next.  

So if you start analysing the numbers and notice that you have many passive fundraisers, remember that it is ALRIGHT. It is actually an opportunity to start a conversation with them.  

A best practice to influence this metric is to send out emails with tips and examples. At BetterNow we have defined a complex user flow, and when a person creates a charitable initiative but does not receive any donations or becomes passive, our system triggers personalised emails and sends out advice on how to take it from there.  

And to spice it up a bit, the opening rate for one of those emails last month was over 57%, and 17% of the inactive fundraisers started receiving donations.  

It is essential to track the number of passive fundraisers, because it’s easy to influence it, and it can make a huge difference.

5. Average amount fundraised per person

This KPI indicates the average amount collected by your fundraisers, and is the sum of the amount fundraised divided by the number of fundraisers.

(Average amount fundraised = Total amount fundraised / Number of fundraisers)  

To influence this metric one can either increase the average donation or increase the number of donations a fundraiser receives.  

To measure it properly it must be a cohort analysis, where the time dimension must be the creation (week/month). In this way, you will be able to see the effect of changes on the average. We used a cohort analysis of the average fundraised per month to show that our machine learning model increased the results of P2P fundraising by 40%!

If you want to go deeper into analysing the data, you can compare this metric across different projects and time spans–as many variables influence this metric (e.g. fundraiser’s income, fundraiser's network), this analysis is truly significant when you have roughly the same population. The observation also applies to the KPI no. 4.

6. Average number of donations per fundraiser

Peer-to-peer fundraising is about tapping into your fundraisers’ network and increase the number of supporters for your charity. In this type of fundraising, the initiator of a campaign is not necessarily the one who gives the most donations; the donations come from his or her network–which means it is essential to get fundraisers to share their page and to ask for donations.  

A best practice is to email the inactive fundraisers and help them get started and get the first donations. A good way to motivate them is by sending personal messages or post thank-you-notes on their page, where someone from the organisation expresses their gratitude to the fundraiser and cheers them on in their fundraising adventure.  

Read how we found branding influences average number of donations to a fundraiser.

7. Average donation size

The other way you can affect the average collected by your fundraisers is by raising the average donation. Across all BetterNow customers, the average donation is currently around 43 euros. We have managed to increase that by simple tactics like raising the suggested amounts in the donation form, and by advising the fundraisers to donate just a bit more than they expect from their donors.


We hope these metrics will help you get a better overview of your fundraising results. There are, of course, many other interesting KPIs that can provide you with actionable insights, but we believe that these five are fundamental for your success with peer-to-peer fundraising.  

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