Vital Signs

What’s the first thing that happens when you visit your doctor?

Someone comes into the examining room and takes your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration — they’re called vital signs.

From what my son-in-law, Dr. Don Reese, tells me, these vital signs help assess general physical health, give clues to possible illness or disease, and provide insights into the status of recovery.

Most times, vital signs are routine. The nurse takes them and enters them into “the system.” If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why they even waste time going through this basic, boring office ritual.

But there are good reasons.

Open wide and say, “Ahhhh”

Have you ever had an experience when one or more of your vital signs was outside of the normal, expected range? In an instant, the nurse and doctor turn from friendly, congenial people to investigators. They ask question after question to determine the underlying cause of a fever, high blood pressure or other measure outside the norm.

Of course, if they don’t find an easy, obvious answer, the next step is often more tests — until the doctor gets a clear understanding of the underlying cause and determines what, if any, treatment is needed.

We fundraisers have vital signs too. They include:

  • Overall file growth
  • New donor trends
  • Second gift rates
  • Retention and reactivation rates
  • Donor value trends

Reviewing fundraising vital signs can be boring and monotonous. Even to the point where you may be tempted to look at them less frequently. After all, second gift conversion and overall retention rates seldom seem to change.

Have you ever seen your fundraising vital signs fall outside the norm? If so, you or someone at your agency undoubtedly responded like a doctor. You started digging in to determine the underlying cause, so that you could take the appropriate action. The goal is to resolve the problem quickly and get back on plan.

Is it time for a fundraising physical exam?

Are you checking your program’s vital signs on a regular basis? Or have you grown tired of the routine?

By regularly checking your development vital signs, you’ll be able to identify potential issues and address any problems early on. The sooner you see the problem, the faster you can get back on track and achieve the results you want and need.