Establishing Baselines to Drive Digital Success

Date Published
JC Bouvier

Driving performance in your digital program, like any other fundraising or marketing channel, is at the end of the day about measurement. In order to measure, your organization must consistently collect effort performance data over the life of your programs. To establish those data baselines, your organization should focus on the key metrics for the big three channels:

  • Email
  • Website
  • Social


Digital should be your organizations’ leading email file growth source, where email is an accepted first bit of data to collect from a potential supporter online; Conventionally easier than first or last name and or address. Collecting emails is the best place to start a constituent’s journey.

Key email metrics include:

Email Metrics – Fundraising Email Metrics – Stewardship
Active email list size Active list size
Email open rate Open rate
Email click through rate (CTR) Click through rate (CTR)
Email conversion rate Ask conversion rate (for actions taken)
Number of gifts / Average gifts Stewardship emails should outperform fundraising metrics
Email unsubscribes

For an overview of these metrics, watch our proven practices webinar | Digital Key Metrics 101.


Your organization’s website is one of your best data capture tools. Used correctly, websites and web pages can capture direct constituent data, like contact form information, or broad data about the types of people who are regularly visiting your website. As a marketer or fundraiser, you can use this broad data from tools like Google Analytics to better craft your messaging and page or form designs to your audiences.

Key web metrics include:

Website Metrics – Fundraising Website Metrics – Stewardship
Mobile vs. desktop traffic Mobile vs. desktop traffic
Site load time Page load time
Time on site Time on page
Bounce rate Conversion rate
Referring sites Referring sites

Social Marketing

Social marketing is now a well-established discipline within the digital fundraising space. While your mileage may vary regarding how much money your organization may have or continues to raise, if you play the long game, there are donors in these channels. Utilizing a thoughtful content strategy and advertising strategy, acquiring email addresses of those potential donors is a good starting place.

Key social marketing channel metrics include:

Channel Performance Post Performance
Number of fans/followers Reach
Engagement rates Number of engagements
Reach Click through rate
Frequency of posts

Post specific:

  • shares, likes, retweets
Referring sites


By keeping an eye on these main key performance indicators for your email stream, your website and your social marketing over time, your fundraising team can better tune your messaging and message timing to those times and themes your audiences are best responding to. Moreover, you can consider spending less time on less valuable messaging, ideally only delivering the types of efforts your supporters most want to engage with.

Watch our free proven practices webinar | Digital Key Metrics 101 right now.

About the Author:
J.C. Bouvier
Vice President, Digital Fundraising, Agency Services

Role at the Company

Working with the President of Agency Services and the CEO of AFG, I’m responsible for setting digital fundraising strategy and tactics for the Agency Services Client Management team and our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

The opportunity to both build on and refine the digital practice and, working with our sister companies, to help create a sum greater than the parts.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Helping others improve their marketing efforts, working on my own startup.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Trying to get back to writing screenplays, discovering hidden terrific restaurants on the South Shore (Oro anyone?) and on Cape Cod (Terra Luna), playing competitive tennis, finding reasonable prices on outstanding wine, and sitting on the board of the Woods Hole Film Festival.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a first cousin once removed of Ram Dass, ( :: Timothy Leary’s partner at Harvard during the 1960’s LSD experiments, on my mother’s side.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Opening the wrapped toy Eagle from the “Space 1999” TV show one Christmas.

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