One of the questions that I get asked a lot is – Do stories really make a difference to fundraising or communications materials? While I’m naturally inclined to just answer YES! based on my experience and results I’ve seen, it can be beneficial to measure for yourself.
Today we’re going to cover how measure the effectiveness of the stories your non-profit tells. This includes determining personal benchmarks and setting metrics that will serve as key indicators. The benefits of regularly measuring your efforts are many, but in the case of measuring story effectiveness, it can help you figure out exactly what kinds of stories your audience responds to.
Start With Benchmarks
If you don’t have some baseline measurements you’ll have nothing to compare your stories measurements to. To create useful benchmarks, start by considering the mediums that you use most often. These will likely be the ways that you’ll share stories with your audience, so these will be good points of comparison.
To create benchmarks that will serve you well, there are three numbers to consider
- Top performer
- Lowest performer
- Median performer
For example. . . if I were to create benchmarks for a non-profit’s email marketing program it might look something like this:
- Top performer: 51%
- Lowest performer: 9%
- Median performer: 31&
Click through rate
- Top performer: 28%
- Lowest performer: 3%
- Median performer: 14%
Once you have outlined your benchmarks, it time to set the metrics that you’ll measure when incorporating a story into the mix.
Set Key Metrics
It’s not the sexiest part of storytelling, but if you truly want to determine if stories are impacting your fundraising or engagement results then you have to start measuring a few key metrics. I’ve long been a proponent of metrics in order to make data-driven decisions. It is the best way to improve your efforts and maximize your return on investment.
The metrics you choose to set will depend on two things.
- The medium you are using to communicate with donors. For instance, direct mail, email, video, etc are all examples of mediums. Some are easier to measure than others.
- The benchmarks you have set in the past. If you have chosen to look at the response rate to direct mail, it might be hard to compare that with the click through rate of an email. Keep in mind we want to compare apples to apples.
Recommendations for metrics:
- Total revenue from an appeal
- Open rate of an email
- Click through rate of an email
- Reach of a Facebook post
- Number of retweets on Twitter
Keep in mind – Our end goal is to be able to determine if using a story has had an impact on the audiences’ response.
When In Doubt, Just Ask
Even when you’ve set metrics and have some benchmarks to compare them to, sometimes there can still be a shade of doubt as to whether or not the numbers represent what you think they represent – response to stories. The best way to mitigate the doubt and settle the debate is to just ask your audience.
Maybe pick ten donors to randomly call for a quick five question survey. Ask them about their impressions of your organization’s communications. Mention that you’ve made some changes recently and would like their feedback. This is a great way to receive immediate and detailed feedback from your audience.
Interviewing or surveying your audience is a much smaller and subjective cross-section of data, but it can still prove to be a valuable exercise in providing you with insights about what they like and what they don’t like. After all, the more you know about your audience the more you’ll be able to craft fundraising and communications materials that they’ll love.