Lean Stream

How to properly evaluate your school fundraiser

As the school principal, evaluating your school fundraising campaigns in terms of how you’ve conducted them and what improvements you can make. After a school fundraising campaign, ask yourself questions like, “Did it work well?”, “Did it achieve its primary objective?”, and “Why it did or didn’t work out the way you intended?”.

How can principals evaluate their school fundraising campaigns?

Principals can start with evaluating the data linked to their school fundraising campaigns.

A data evaluation at the end of a school fundraising campaign is a powerful way to analyze fundraising best practices and areas of opportunity.

When evaluating the data from your school fundraising campaigns, always begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Did we meet our goal?
  • By how much did we win or how much did we fall short?

After answering these two questions, you will need to explore your year-to-year growth, the volume of donors gained, and the percentage of donors who increased or reduced their annual school donations.

With these secondary metrics, you can reveal hidden characteristics about your school fundraising campaign, like whether you are reaching new donors or if you need to ask the existing donor base to contribute more to your school fundraising campaigns.

A successful campaign obviously meets or exceeds its goal. Whether or not your campaign was successful, you’ll want to assess the campaign and identify ways to improve in the future. As educators know, assessment is a big component for growth. The key to a better fundraiser could be as simple as crafting a clearer way to communicate the objective or finding a new way to promote the fundraiser.

What should you do if your fundraiser isn’t performing as expected?    

As a school principal, you may have made all the necessary plans to execute your school’s fundraising campaign at a fast and furious rate but the progress is not meeting expectations. You may find it helpful to have a brainstorming session with faculty and staff or committee members to look for ways to boost donations.

There may be technical issues at play. You may need to ask for feedback or send out a survey to determine if something may be causing a roadblock. It may be necessary to change the donation process to make it less confusing or easier for supporters to participate          

Continually evaluate your school fundraising campaign by collecting and analyzing data from it. Store the campaign results and data in a file that you can refer to every year (or better yet, if you are using digital fundraising tools like LeanStream’s platform, you can check up on results in real time). Continuous reflection on these results over the years will help you see trends over time instead of mere discrete results from one year of conducting your school fundraising campaign. Having this information accessible will help you identify the reasons behind the results.

Stay focused on the mission of your school’s fundraising campaign. 

Mission-focused school fundraising campaigns are usually better than donor-centered school fundraising campaigns. Therefore, the focus, energy, decision-making process, and donor relations should always be based on the school fundraising campaign’s mission.

This does not mean that donor-centered school fundraising campaigns are a terrible idea. The main point is in evaluating whether a school campaign has achieved its mission.

Principals should ask themselves questions like: “Why are we here?” Why do we do what we do?” All mission-based school fundraising campaigns should be a reflection of the school’s overarching values and purpose.

A mission-based school fundraising campaign should allow you to clearly communicate the request. It is crucial that the raised funds actually went to the appropriate programs. Communicate with your donors what the money was used for and how it has impacted your students.

Be forward-thinking when evaluating your school fundraising campaign. 

Evaluating your school fundraising campaign involves setting fundraising goals for the next year in advance. Create realistic goals that won’t make your next fundraising campaign full of anxiety. With reasonable and attainable goals, you can instill confidence and attract donors to fulfill your goals.

Use your network to your advantage. As a principal, you probably know colleagues and peers who have led successful school fundraising campaigns. Solicit information and advice from your circle. You may also want to check into partners or vendors who can help you accomplish your fundraising goals. Educators love to share. Ask for examples that you can use to craft your own campaign.

We all learn by trial and error. Be willing to learn from your mistakes. If something didn’t work, tweak it or change it and try again next time.

Calculate the average gift size. 

This is calculated by summing up all donations made in your school fundraising campaign over a specified period and dividing them by the total number of unique contributions.

Whether you choose to adopt the average gift size measure over time from one month to one year, it can show your average donation and the number of gifts you need to hit a specific target. Doing so can help you track your progress throughout the duration of the campaign.

What is the cost for every dollar raised?

For many schools, the cost per dollar raised is one of the primary indicators of school fundraising performance. The cost-per-dollar-raised helps you calculate how much money your school spends to raise one dollar from a school fundraising campaign.

This is usually displayed as $0.25 per $1 raised. Suppose your school is already tracking expenditures and allocates different costs to individual fundraising projects. In that case, you may find it a bit hard to calculate your school’s ratio in terms of the cost for every dollar raised. After calculating the cost for every dollar raised, devise measures to reduce this ratio. This helps your school to get more value from the money raised by donors.

You can calculate the cost for every dollar raised by dividing the total cost of main school fundraising activities by the total of all donations and contributions made to the school. 


Proper evaluation of a school fundraising campaign is an excellent way to determine whether a school fundraising campaign is moving as planned or if it’s not doing so well. You can use today’s school fundraising campaign results to properly prepare for the future school fundraising campaigns for more revenue and better results.