FOCUS IN PUBLIC MEDIA: Which Are the Key Membership Metrics Worth Tracking?

Key Membership Metrics
Date Published
Brett Jones

There’re a bazillion metrics used in data analysis these days – many of them super-important: number of gifts, average gift amount, and response rate to name a few. Before you can really start digging into the pieces, though, an understanding of the whole pie is essential. Keep track of these numbers in an Excel worksheet and leave a place for notes. Devote a couple hours each month to completing a worksheet to track change. Include the following metrics.

  1. Active Member Count by Month – Pick the same time every month (right after you run renewals is a good time) and record how many Active Members you have. Make sure to include Contributors. Jot down some notes on why you think the file went up or down – this is important to be able to explain to the station’s leadership when they ask in December and when they ask again in June. Active Member count isn’t static!
  2. Monthly Retention Rate – Retention rate is the percentage of Active Members retained over a certain time period. Increase your Retention rate and decrease the spend on reactivation. Retained donors drive your growth in add gift and sustaining revenue. You’ll need 2 months’ worth of data: Active Members at the beginning of month 1 (A), New Members during the month (B), and Active Members at the beginning of month 2 (C). The calculation for Retention rate is: ((C-B)/A)*100.
  3. Monthly Churn – The rate at which your members lapse out is called Churn (Current/Lapsed members). How can you decrease the Churn rate? One idea is to track it for a few months, then set a goal for lapsed recapture that your membership service staff can rally behind.
  4. Average Member Lifetime – This number will become larger as the number of monthly-giving donors in your program increases. If you find a large drop-off in the number of sustainers, for example, at 17 months, you could introduce a benefit at 18 months to keep them on file. Not only will this increase the average lifetime, but it’s another opportunity for stewardship.
  5. Gross vs Net – Admittedly, I’m obsessed with this one. Because, um, GOALS. Here’s an example, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s compare Direct Mail and Pledge.

WDMW has an annual Gross Revenue goal of $500,000 for Direct Mail and $550,000 for Pledge.

Direct Mail expense including consulting, lettershop, print, and postage is $180,000. Pledge expense ends up being $250,000 with premiums and live production.

Let’s say both campaigns hit their revenue goal. If your goal is to hit Gross Revenue, Pledge wins. NET-wise? Direct Mail brings in $20,000 more.

Know what the goal is and get specific. Track both gross and net, and use specific results to educate staff in your status reports.

Remember to record your metrics on a monthly basis. Consider posting them in a public place so that your team can be apprised and motivated with actionable goals.

About the Author:
Brett Jones
Vice President of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

I lead the Agency Services Client Management team. I challenge the team to continually improve our strategy, creative and service, and develop new ideas, so we can provide better solutions and outcomes to our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love fundraising! In my career I have had the chance to work with many different organizations that are doing incredible work and really making a difference. I enjoy helping them meet and exceed their goals so they can advance their missions. 

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

I have always wanted to work with non-profits and love fundraising. It’s my way of contributing to the greater good. I can’t imagine what else I would do!

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I love reading, ice skating, and going to the beach in the summer, but most of I love spending time with my daughter.

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

Brett is my middle name. I’m actually Sara Brett. But don’t call me Sara if you want me to answer!

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. I was so proud of myself. I was so excited to visit my neighborhood friends by myself.

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