Growing up I was enthralled with Sesame Street, and during the holidays, all I could be heard singing around the house was the Count’s “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”  We don’t think about it much as adults, but your front teeth are really important! I realized that the day I tried to bite into an apple and chipped one.

What does that have to do with fundraising, you ask? Well, that song recently popped into my head, and it gave me pause. While there is still a lot of activity happening to close out 2019, many fundraisers already have their heads down looking at 2020 — or that shiny red apple that we can’t wait to take a bite out of! 

So I started to draw a connection to data, and how we approach it. Because, like trying to eat an entire apple in just one bite — not advisable, by the way — there is such a thing as too much data! To me, the “two front teeth” approach to data comes from establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow us to take manageable bites out of the data to answer important questions. In the case of our apple, things like how ripe and juicy it is or if it’s satiating my hunger. 

KPIs provide easily digestible performance measures so that we can understand how our programs are performing and determine whether we should stay the line (take another bite) or course correct (find a new snack). With KPIs, you only need to take a bite out of the apple to know if it tastes good and you want more.  

There are four core elements to creating KPIs:

  1. A Measure— Examples include registrations, donations, new/returning constituents, actions taken
  2. A Target— A quantifiable goal over a specific period of time (could be a number or percentage)
  3. A Data Source— The data source that provides the information you are looking to measure 
  4. Reporting Frequency— Daily, weekly, monthly or annually, depending on the length of your program or campaign
And best of all, you only need a few (4-7) KPIs to get a really strong handle on your fundraising performance. The combination of leading and lagging KPIs will provide a performance snapshot to help you make agile decisions in support of achieving your goals.   

So for this holiday season, I will continue to sing this song (since it’s stuck in my head now! Is it stuck in yours?) but change it up so that all I want for Christmas are KPIs!


Loved hearing from Sue and wondering how she could possibly help you with your KPIs?