??? per dollar raised

A month or two ago I attended a speed networking event organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Toronto chapter.  This event was formatted so that a group of 3-5 individuals relatively new to the field of fundraising (1-5 years experience) sat together at a table and every 9 minutes a new “mentor” (established and experienced fundraiser) would join them, answering questions, offering advice, guidance, etc.  It was a neat experience as the format seemed to change every time a new mentor joined us – sometimes they would begin a dramatic soliloquy on the current state of fundraising, other times they would confidently and kindly answer your questions, and still other times they would ask you what you were most concerned about and challenge you with questions, expanding your mind and forcing you to consider alternatives.  I found it very stimulating and interesting.

One mentor in particular opened my mind to an interesting idea.  I believe someone at our table asked him what the average or even ideal statistic was when it came to “cost/dollar raised”, a metric sometimes popular in our field.  The mentor didn’t answer her question, but instead gave an enlightening and inspiring answer that deconstructed her question and made us think.

His answer was along the lines of this: “cost/dollar raised” is not a useful metric.  Some organizations keep cost/dollar raised very low and others may have an above average statistic, but what does it matter?  Certainly this proves that an organization is being efficient and fiscally responsible, and these are important things, but at the end of the day what are we trying to do as charities/organizations???

We’re trying to make an impact.

What if we could measure our impact/dollar raised???  Wouldn’t that be a more interesting metric?  Wouldn’t that be something more valuable to consider when determining how successful one organization is vs. another?

Then again, this wouldn’t be a metric that would or could really pin one charity against another, which I also appreciate.  Instead it joins us all together in working to make the biggest impact possible with the money we raise.  Doesn’t that sound like exactly what we’re working to do?

What do you think???


Written by Maeve Strathy

Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

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