Direct Mail Fundraising Metrics: Nice to Know vs. Need to Know

This last year taught us so many things, and much of it has accelerated a digital revolution. When we weren't able to have in-person meetings, everything had to go online (hello, Teams meetings!) But then what happened when your donors started to get the dreaded “Zoom fatigue?" Today we are looking at going back to basics with Direct Mail because fundraising is all about meeting your donors where they are.

This digital shift has brought so much to the forefront, including much more sophisticated data tracking. So in this post, we will go over Direct Mail Fundraising Metrics, the items that are nice to know, and more importantly, the things you need to know to help you achieve your mission.

Direct Mail Fundraising Metrics, Nice to Know:

Response Rate

Number of people engaged

Number of new donors


The AFP has many fantastic resources to dig into these metrics and more if you are interested in reading further. 

Direct Mail Fundraising Metrics, Need to Know:

Donor Lifetime Value 

This metric is a solid estimate of a donor's contributions over the whole length of their relationship with your organization. This formula looks a little more complicated, but it's worth it! Donor Lifetime Value is calculated: Average Donor Lifespan x Average Gift Amount x (Total Number of Donations/Total Number of Donors.)


Average Donation Amount

To calculate this metric, you want to compare apples to apples, i.e., your Back to School campaign from last year to this year. This formula is the Sum of Donations / the Number of Donations.


Cost of Donor Acquisition

Acquiring new donors is time-consuming and expensive but also necessary. It's best to compare the acquisition cost per donor by each campaign—your ROI increases when new donors turn into recurring donors and give multiple gifts. The formula to calculate Donor Acquisition Cost = Total Costs/Total number of Donors Acquired.


Donor Retention Rate

As we mentioned, acquiring new donors is time-consuming and expensive, so you want to keep a pulse on the percentage of donors who continue to give to your organization. Retention rate = Number of Returning Donors / Number of Previous Year Donors, then multiply that by 100 to get your percentage.


In summary 

These Need to Know figures are a valuable addition for you to track and help with successful strategic planning and cost management. The Campaign Structure within StratusLIVE 365 allows your organization to plan, build, and execute fundraising campaigns that will enable you to further measure your campaign success, track strategies that worked particularly well, and identify strategies for improvement. 


Once your donations start rolling in, it's easy to track the Campaign Activities and Campaign Activity Groups that generated the gift. Campaign Activity and Campaign Activity Group appear on many transaction forms within StratusLIVE 365, including the pledge and payment forms. In addition, our Nonprofit CRM includes enhanced Campaign Return on Investment (ROI) Analytics on every level of the Campaign Structure. These features allow StratusLIVE users to take the guesswork out of these Nice to Know and Need to Know figures. They can even create a dashboard of these figures to have a constant eye on the health of their fundraising year and execute successful campaigns based on accurate and reliable data.

For information on your Direct Mail Audience, check out this post that is part of a series we call “Level Up Your Fundraising.”

Posted by Alyssa Pacheco

Alyssa Pacheco is a former Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has three years of marketing and communications experience within the technology sector, along with four years of direct nonprofit fundraising experience. “I genuinely enjoy sharing the significant benefits that technology plays for nonprofit organizations in their social good efforts.”