Posted by & filed under Analytics, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics.

Liz Rejman, CFRE

Let’s face it: most people would much rather be meeting with donors than updating contact information in the database. Very few people jump at the chance to review data protocols and establish coding. Data management can be scary, confusing, and overwhelming.

However, poor data management costs your organization time and money. When properly managed, data can improve customer service, operational efficiency and assist in informed decision making within an organization.

Here’s the secret to inspiring a love for data and data management: it isn’t the data itself that is compelling. It’s the story it tells. Do you know what your data is telling you?

In order for your data to tell you an accurate story of your organization, there are three things to consider.

You need to know why the story is important.talk data button
Why do you need the data? What will it be used for? Do you send customized documents and letters to your donors? Do you track and report specific metrics for your board members? How do you measure success within a campaign or in your performance reviews? In all of these instances, data helps to tell the story of your past successes.

Data should be telling stories, but not secrets. Just as data will help tell a great story; it shouldn’t jeopardize donor trust while doing so. Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting it. Give serious consideration as to why you want to collect data and what will be its use.

For example, when I work with fundraisers to establish reports, I always ask them to share their vision of what the report will look like (and in some cases, I will even ask for a mock-up of the report). I want to know:

  • What is the purpose of the report?
  • What is it measuring?
  • Who will see it? How often will they see it?
  • How detailed does the information need to be?

Knowing what the end result will be helps determine what pieces of data are needed, who needs to be collecting and maintaining that data and how often it needs to be reviewed.

You need to have your data talk in a consistent language.
The first thing I learned about database management and reporting was “garbage in, garbage out.” If you data isn’t consistent in both where and how it is entered, the story will always be inaccurate. This is where you can get your database to work for you – take advantage of drop-down menus and checkboxes for consistent formatting. Text boxes have their place, but know that if there are multiple ways to spell a word or format a phrase, it will be spelled and formatted in every way conceivable.

You need to ensure that everyone can add to the data conversation.
If the data isn’t in the database, it doesn’t exist and it won’t be part of the story. You need to make it easy to add data to the database. Data entry protocols that are too complex won’t be adopted or remembered. If a particular data entry protocol can’t be mastered in a 10 minute training session, it’s too complicated. And if a piece of data needs to be coded in multiple places, there better be a really good reason why.

Data can tell you where you’re at, help you establish trends and patterns and assist in making informed decisions. It can tell the story of your past, present and even predict some of the future. But you need to help it talk to you. So the next time the topic of database management comes up, don’t be afraid to say “talk data to me.”

LiZ RejmanLiz Rejman, CFRE has spent her entire career in the nonprofit sector bringing her dynamic expertise to health care, education and the arts, with a focus on database management and prospect researchShe recently transitioned from full time researcher at a large hospital foundation to Head of Development and one person fundraiser for Museum London (Canada). Follow her on Twitter, @erejman or visit her blog.

 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, Artez Interactive

woman-with-smartphone

Many nonprofit organizations are closely measuring online activity across their websites and donation forms… And with good reason! Tools like Google Analytics can be more useful than user surveys when we want accurate information about what our donors and supporters are really doing online.

When diving into your own numbers, have you noticed the difference between web traffic from laptops or PCs, and mobile traffic from smartphones and tablets? At Artez Interactive, we track fundraising activity for millions of visitors to charity and nonprofit donation pages every year. We’ve noticed that for most organizations, the peak time of day for online donations is between 9am – 11am.

What’s driving this pattern? A few things! Donors are responding to email solicitations in their inboxes and logging onto social sites like Facebook at the start of the day; often while at work. It makes sense that charities and nonprofits would see a spike in donations during this period. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Data Management, Metrics, Speakers.

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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… Read more »