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The Value of Benchmarking in Gift Processing and Records Administration (and How it's Done)

benchmarking

One of the most common reasons our clients ask for benchmarking is to answer the question, “How are we similar or different from other participants?

By Charlotte Davis McGhee

Managers of fundraising organizations are always interested in what their peers are doing. This interest has led GG+A into the business of benchmarks.

For over 20 years, GG+A has been providing valuable information through carefully constructed benchmark instruments that our clients can use to illuminate key issues and trends in their operations and those of their peers, and help them make better decisions. Because these issues are universal, and because the GG+A client base is so large, we have been able to identify the right peer participants to include in the benchmark process. 

Our library of benchmarks for Advancement Services ranges from single topics such as gift processing and system management to comprehensive studies of full Advancement Services operations.

GG+A has developed a methodology that identifies the core components of each business unit and the resources used to support that unit.

For each benchmark, we identify the core services to be included in the study and structure the questionnaire to elicit analogous information from each participant to uncover:

Patterns of best practices in gift administration

• Metrics that measure best-practice performance among high-performance peer institutions

  • Areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement in gift management practices

The benchmark for each functional area in the study includes questions about:

• The corporate culture and customer service ethic

• Current organizational structure and internal reporting relationships

Budget and staffing

• Centralization vs. decentralization of gift administration and database records maintenance functions

• Functions that are outsourced

• Functions that are automated

• Use of services for business intelligence and analytics

Below are some examples from real benchmarking studies we’ve done for clients (participant names have been removed). The first table illustrates relative workload for gift, membership, and biographical transactions for one year among participant institutions that have members:

transaction processed annually

This next table shows costs for personnel and program. The total is divided by the number of gift transactions processed to get the cost per transaction:

cost per transaction processed

The percentage of alumni records that do not have a mailable address is perhaps the best measurement of database management that a benchmark can provide, as this next table shows:

lost alumni rate

What more can we learn from benchmarks? Download GG+A’s new white paper, The Value of Benchmarking: Focus on Gift Processing and Records Administration.

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About the author

Charlotte Davis McGhee

Vice President for Advancement Services

Charlotte Davis McGhee, Vice President for Advancement Services, has more than 42 years of experience in fundraising systems and support services in both academic and business environments. She has a special expertise in the management of gift and pledge processing; database management; system support for prospect management; providing an effective…