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Jody Dailey, CFRE, Associate Executive Director, Advancement Services, Ryerson University and Len Gamache, CFRE.

Data Security vs. Data Collection

“Big Data” seems to be all the buzz these days, but what does it mean for our development programs?

Many organizations are using reams of information that they have collected over the past number of years to make strategic decisions and predict outcomes. The growing viewpoint seems to be: “Keep everything because you don’t know when you might need it”.

But we were fortunate to hear a presentation recently from Kirk Bailey, Chief Information Security Officer, University of Washington. He detailed what keeps him up at night. Not least of which is the fact that 70 countries have active cyber-infiltration programs and his job is to monitor activity to ensure they don’t get access to any data systems at his university. His advice was loud and clear — store and use only the data you need and no more!

So what’s an organization to do with these two conflicting views of the world? Here is some practical advice…

  1. Engage your security staff and use them as a resource.
  2. Have strong contracts with vendors you share your data with. Spend the time to understand what they will do with your data and what you are agreeing to do with any data they provide you.
  3. Review your database and critically analyze what data you should and shouldn’t have. In some hospital foundations years ago, foundation staff had access to patient records – we know some of that information made its way into the fundraising database. If you have a similar situation, delete the information!
  4. Don’t replicate data. Try to limit the number of Excel spreadsheets out there with donor data on them. These put you at risk.
  5. If it isn’t sensitive, keep it. Don’t overwrite address information. Add a new address record – this is valuable information for your research staff.
  6. Track how you get data. If a donor calls to tell you they have moved, they “love” you more than if you received a return piece of mail and researched the new address yourself.
  7. Cross reference as much data as possible in your organization. At the Chicago YMCA, they’ve created a department of organizational analysts called the Performance Improvement Team . They look at cross functional data (fundraising, membership, finance, marketing, programming) because it is a bigger data set and tells a larger story. They look at data that affects operational efficiency and mission impact.

If you aspire to learn more about using data to your advantage and not being a victim to it, then join us on AFP Fundraising Day for our session on “Fundraising Data”, when we’ll share lessons learned from Kirk and other industry leaders. Who knew that this topic could be so fascinating?!
Jody Dailey has worked in the fundraising arena since 1995. Jody is currently Associate Executive Director, Advancement Services at Ryerson University. Jody is an active volunteer with the Friends of Killarney Park, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and the organizing committee of Canadian Higher Education Annual Giving Congress. You can follow her on Twitter @jodydailey

Len Gamache has led major development programs for Grand River Hospital followed by St. Joseph’s Health Centre (London), St. Joseph’s Hospital (Toronto), The Royal Conservatory, and the Children’s Aid Foundation. He has served on the board of directors AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and chaired the Chapter Finance Committee. He volunteers with the Friends of Killarney Park.

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