My Favorite Metric

Date Published
Kate Ryan

So many metrics, so little time!

At Allegiance Fundraising Group, we use a healthy variety of metrics to determine the success of our direct mail campaigns. Response rate, average gift, cost to acquire – you name it, we can calculate, analyze, and share insight. I could talk for hours about how successful a campaign actually was, slicing and dicing with the best of them. Give me a roomful of people interested in the nitty-gritty, and we’ll go down the rabbit hole together and come out muddy on the other side.

But what if we’re short on time? If I need to quickly surmise how an active donor segment performed, what’s the one metric that I’d highlight? Without a doubt, Gross per Piece Mailed (GPPM) is my go-to number.

GPPM = Gross Revenue/Quantity Mailed

GPPM balances quantity, revenue, response rate, and average gift into one performance metric. GPPM is especially effective when you’re looking at results over time. With a few years of GPPM history by package, and you can now determine package performance by segment.

Here’s an example. The chart below shows GPPM for WAFG’s (a fictional organization) Additional Gift mail segment over a 3-year period:

MetricJust a quick review of this chart shows me what I need to communicate — Package 1 and Package 2 are the top-performing packages for this segment and that there are testing opportunities, particularly in fall and winter campaigns. Additionally, there are now benchmarks to judge future performance.

Comparing campaigns in the same time frame year-over-year also helps you to understand external factors — events not directly related to your campaigns but affecting them nonetheless. Here’s the same chart framed with some of those elements:


Sometimes these external factors — weather, politics, other newsworthy events — won’t impact your campaigns, but many times they can. Plotting their timing can help you to frame the conversation. Why didn’t the Summer 2016 campaign perform as well as the others? The forest fires in the area diverted donors’ attention from your nonprofit to another.

Using GPPM as the go-to metric simplifies your case. Plotting historical GPPM bolsters it by benchmarking both campaign and package data alongside external events.

Want to learn more about simplifying your metrics? Email me!

About the Author:
Kate Ryan
Account Director, Agency Services

Role at the Company

My role involves helping fundraisers find and keep loyal donors while making a positive impact in their communities. Every day, I apply whole-brain solutions to the work I do, using analytics, creativity, and a big dose of nerd to help our clients succeed.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love data! And having client-side experience with all three divisions of AFG allows me to rev that motor in a big way.

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

Running an apocalypse-themed bowling alley and bar. Probably goat yoga. Managing my kids’ Youtube careers.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Spending time with said children, acrylic fluid painting, traveling, bowling (really!), reading, and if there’s time after, a good zombie movie.

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

The first time I was ever in a plane, I jumped out. That one time I skydived was pretty cool!

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

As a kid, my family went to Tablerock Lake for our summer vacation. We had a small motorboat that was just big enough for the five of us, and my brother and I learned to waterski soon enough. One morning, dad threw out the ropes and off we went. We tooled around the lake for a long time, neither of us willing to take the first fall of the day. Dad kept circling the boat, forcing us to jump the wakes – still neither of us would take the dive. Finally ran the boat entirely out of gas just outside our cove. Dad got towed back. We had to swim.

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