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The Case for Expanding Benchmarking

Jasmine Jones
Published:  08/31/2021
man looking at benchmarks on an ipad
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

As hospitals continue through waves of COVID-19 infections, many members are eager to jump into using benchmarking data to better explain their performance over the last year and a half or plan for the future with the knowledge that anything can happen next.

With the kick-off of the 2021 Report on Giving survey, AHP’s main source of peer-to-peer benchmarking data, I want to share some perspectives on how members are currently using this data to help guide those ready to take the next step. 

Internal Benchmarking

In the midst of recovering and adjusting to multiple COVID-19 infection waves, many foundations continue to focus on their own internal benchmarks to gain an understanding of what their unique “normal” trends look like. This goes not only for the performance of your organization as a cohesive entity, but also for the performance of your direct fundraising staff. 

Over time, more system-level foundations have adopted this process by viewing performance trends across the foundations within their own system. As a result, many have prioritized standardization of data input, via CRM implementations or internal best practice building, and standardization of calculations used for analyses, via resources like the Standards Manual

External Benchmarking

I’ve found that organizations who primarily externally benchmark already have an idea of what insights they’re looking for. They either have a group of organizations in their network to use for comparisons or they have specific criteria used to find alike organizations.

For example, one foundation may want to find a group of organizations within a similar FTE range and community type, with similar patient revenue and fundraising revenue numbers for higher-level benchmarks where another foundation may have a contact list of peers to reach out to for more in-depth strategy conversations. 

Before choosing one option over the other, take a step back to ask yourself a few questions: do you already know your KPI values, or do you need to access that data first? Do you already have a list of peers to collaborate with or do you need to revisit your network and reach out? If the later, are there ideal benchmarks you have in mind to hit or organizational characteristics important to you that can be used to narrow down your network? 

Maintaining the Old vs. Creating the New

No matter the method of benchmarking, our members find benchmarking so imperative that about 75% of the organizations completing the Report on Giving every year are returning participants. Because of this, many continue to track their data going back 5 or more years ago, helping them identify their own internal KPIs used for goal setting, board presentations, and donor conversations.

Not only is this helpful for understanding historical performance trends and identifying the most crucial influences on fundraising performance, but also for identifying and resource alignment towards new growth opportunities. Many turn to peer benchmarking insights before making decisions around revenue and expense mix and fundraising goals for staff. For a quick pulse check from previous years, take a look at the 2020 Report on Giving for the U.S. and Canada.

Unsure of Where to Start?

For those new to benchmarking, choosing where to start can be as complicated as implementing the data itself. Consider strategizing internally first to best understand where the most successful growth opportunities lie. Next, consider the different paths outlined above or expand and create as you go along.

Maybe there are peer organizations you can reach out to directly to discuss data trends or perhaps you’d like to take a step back with internal peers first to share a broader understanding of where goals overlap. You can even start by learning from others in the field, such as listening to CDO and operations staff speak on how they use benchmarking data every year. 

Whether you’re new to benchmarking or are looking for a new way to gain additional insights, you are most likely aiming to use a combination of the methods above. In both situations, beginning with a list of organizational priorities will help push bettering your own performance to the forefront.

To begin tracking your own benchmarking metrics today, sign up for the 2021 Report on Giving survey or learn more about AHP’s benchmarking resources.   

NEWS  /01/03/20
The most successful philanthropy professionals benchmark their performance regularly throughout the year. Learn why and how to do it.
NEWS  /05/09/19
Here are five questions to keep in mind when you’re starting out using benchmarking data.
NEWS  /12/05/18
AHP's Report on Giving is essential for adapting to the dynamic nature of philanthropy in health care, but why should we compare our data in the first place and where do we even begin?
NEWS  /04/14/17
This information is taken from the 2016 AHP Annual International Conference session “Showing Relevance to Your Board and C-Suite through Performance Benchmarking

Meet The Author

Jasmine Jones headshot
Jasmine Jones
Manager, Research and Product Development
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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