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 Leadership/Management, Metrics.

Brian Emmett, Chief Economist, Imagine Canada

Results definition and management are hot topics these days, given additional attention by the recent decision of the Hewlett Foundation to cease funding “groups that provide research on philanthropic strategies that produce measurable results.” (Hewlett Ends Effort to Get Donors to Make Dispassionate Choices on Giving) Amidst the wide and understandable debate about the Hewlett decision, some of the fundamentals at stake are at risk of drifting into a distant mist.

As Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Government of Canada, I was impressed with the auditor’s motto: “What gets measured gets done”. This struck me as a simple but profound management insight. It was a neat explanation of why environmental values – so important to Canadians in general – were routinely neglected in government and private decision making. The underlying causes were measurement and management; that is, these values were often intangible and difficult to measure and to incorporate in management frameworks.

Measure more, measure better

It followed that one key way to improve performance in this area was not to make ever more sincere promises about doing better, but to turn to the difficult and demanding process of developing stronger measures of environmental quality. This would lead to better management and decisions that produce the results Canadians value. Conversely, measuring less or measuring badly would lead to approaches that were at best inefficient and at worst counterproductive. Now that I am working as Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, I find these insights equally applicable to many social programs with their hard to measure objectives such as equity and justice.

The emphasis on results definition and management is now widespread in government where some of the best work on developing results is being done and where results-based approaches are being used in the design and development of a wide range of government programs. This insight underlies the movement to create social investment partnerships between government, charities and the private sector where it is thought a major benefit would be the access to private sector experience with innovative metrics and management. It is an insight which appeals directly to a younger generation of potential donors who have grown up in the metrically oriented knowledge economy.

Stronger focus on metrics generationally driven?

Leaving aside the thorny question of whether existing donors respond to measurement of results, metrics will become more important over time. First, all of we (charities, government and private sector) are being relentlessly pressured to be more efficient and effective and to manage a wider range of social, environmental and economic issues. Better metrics are an important tool – a necessary but not sufficient condition – for making the improvements that society is demanding. Second, we have to be aware of today’s and tomorrow’s donors. I haven’t noticed that the younger generation is any less committed to social and charitable issues than is my boomer cohort. However, they are a lot more accustomed to using metrics when making decisions.

An emphasis on results is a win/win. Measurement can lead to better management and more impact per charitable dollar and appeal to a new more metrically oriented generation. The bottom line is that the results movement is here to stay – and to grow.

Mr. Emmett is an economics graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Essex in England. He was Canada’s first Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the late 1990s. He also served as Vice-President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in the early 2000s and has been an Assistant Deputy Minister in a number of federal government departments. He will be participating in the Plenary Panel at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto.
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Posted by & filed under Analytics, Metrics, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Brock Warner

If you’ve been to a conference session about fundraising using social media, you know there is always someone that eventually says “yeah this is nice and all, but how much money did it raise?

Stop asking that question.

What you need to start asking is “how did you track your fundraising results?” because all the keyword strategy, timing tests, creative tests or anything else is worthless, if we can’t adequately track the true fundraising results. Innovation tomorrow will come when our present-day strategies prove worthy of investment.

Read more »

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 »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Major/Planned Gifts, Metrics, Speakers.

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CHAD GOBEL

President, Gobel Group

Do you know your ten most important numbers to becoming a top advancement producer? We call them your Key Metrics for Major Gifts. In this blog, we’ll help you identify your metrics and put you on a path to closing more and larger major gifts. So how do you identify your Key Metrics? Let’s start with the first number you need to know.

1. What is your annual goal?

Have you established an annual goal for how much money you expect to raise this year in major gifts? If you have, great… if you haven’t, here is a technique for creating your goal?

The most effective approach to goal-setting is to base your number on your pipeline, not a pre-determined amount based on your level or role. Begin the goal-setting process by reviewing your pipeline to identify a realistic but aggressive goal for dollars raised (cash and pledges) for your next year. In particular, you should look at prospects in a Solicited or Ready to Solicit status, and perhaps those in Cultivation or Stewardship status that will be ready for an ask in the next year. From this review, you will be able to identify those prospects who will be asked for a gift in the next year and the anticipated amount of each gift. This becomes the basis for your goal for dollars raised.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s use $100,000 as a goal for dollars raised. Read more »