During November’s client Round Table, Steve and I discussed Development Reporting and Scorecards. We are in the process of integrating Scorecards for all of our clients, as it is a great tool to keep us updated and to keep your board involved and motivated!

Why should we have a scorecard? 

When you create a development plan, you’re creating your fundraising goals for the upcoming year(s). By creating a scorecard that mimics your development plan goals, you’ll be able to easily communicate those outcomes on a monthly basis.  A scorecard will help you stay on track with those projections, and will show your fundraising growth over time.

Why is it important to have a development report vs. financial report?

Finance numbers will not include all items that your database can pull. This includes Donor Retention, New Donors in an identified time frame or for a specific appeal, donor category totals, LYBUNT donors, etc. Fundraising reports that you pull provide an opportunity to connect your board to your donors.

You should also be reconciling with your finance team monthly, so your fundraising numbers should match closely.  Remember that in an event summary, for example, you will be reporting gross dollars in. By working with finance, you can create a net report to show the overall impact of your fundraising event.

Development Reporting Tips

  1. When presenting your development plan budget, give the previous year’s totals, in comparison to previous year to date, current year to date, and current year goal.
  2. Cash flow is never evenly split month-by-month. Reporting comparisons over previous years helps to show the high/low points. If you are planning to raise $200,000 in the year, it’s not as easy as dividing that goal by 12 to get your projected fundraising numbers. Certain months of the year will be significantly higher over others.
  3. Accounting reports and Development reports are not the same, but they should be close. There is often a difference in received date vs. deposit date which will impact the two reports side-by-side slightly. When accounting is showing their report of income and expenses, your income report should be very close. Keep in mind, that accounting will “close out” event accounts though, once funds are received. If you are receiving a monthly donation in response to that event, however, your cash-in budget report may shift higher as time goes on and the accounting report will stay the same.
  4. Make sure your reports are easy to run from the database. You shouldn’t be spending more than 30 minutes to run this report each month. It can be as easy as pulling an appeal summary of all cash gifts and plugging those numbers in to the appropriate goal line item.
  5. Have other staff review your reports to make sure they are easy to understand. It’s likely that you see the data every day and it makes sense to you. If you have footnotes and a cheat sheet explaining nuances within the report, it’s too complicated.
  6. Focus on your successes, especially in the areas of fundraising that your board has been involved. If they see how their help has really made a difference, they’ll continue to be willing to give that support. And at the same time, if there happens to be a specific effort that wasn’t as successful this year as in previous years, be ready to explain why.
  7. Additional analysis reports can be helpful at board meetings. However, do not overwhelm them with data overload! Choose one specific report to highlight each month in addition to your budget comparison. It’s often helpful to coordinate these reports with past or upcoming efforts. If you’re reviewing lapsed donors, frame it in a timely way that the board can help recapture some of those donors.