If year-over-year gift income has increased, advancement leaders will regularly make the case (to their bosses, to their Boards, etc.) that good work is happening. Fundraising totals are an easy-to-understand metric, they make comparisons easy, and they highlight what many people believe advancement programs should be doing.
But assessing any enterprise – especially an advancement program – on a single metric is problematic. And building operating plans to meet a single metric is even more problematic. Negative side effects are produced and long-term health of the program is almost always sacrificed.
How, then, can thoughtful leaders quickly and consistently assess the ongoing health and success of an advancement program? The three points of breadth, depth, and time go a long way toward providing such an assessment.
- Breadth (Are we broadening our donor base?): At what rate are we expanding our total number of donors each year?
- Depth (Are we raising more money today?): How effectively are we inviting major gifts from donors who have the financial capacity, interest, and willingness to give substantially?
- Time (Are we preparing gift commitments which will benefit the institution in the future?): At what rate are we increasing our total number of planned gifts commitments each year?
Advancement leaders who focus on implementing strategies in support of these 3 assessment measures will find themselves leading successful and healthier programs.
Success is never as simple as one metric. But, it isn’t overly-complicated either.