Building Your Program Based On Analytics

August 8, 2017       THE NONPROFIT TIMES      

For some fundraising shops, it’s a task on par with embarking on a voyage to a far-away volcano destroy an all-powerful ring. Analytics, by their nature, can be complex with so many different variables potentially factoring in. To those who are able to master the strategy, however, often go the spoils.

    Heather Campbell, director of analytics and data management for Princeton University, and Jennifer MacCormack, director of advancement analytics for the University of Washington, sought to provide attendees with a stronger grasp on the ins and outs of implementing analytics during their session, “Smarter Fundraising Using Analytics” at Fundraising Day in New York 2017. Among the approaches the pair recommended were:

  • Assemble a task force. Seek out a cross-functional team, identifying key stakeholders in information technology, prospect development, annual giving, and alumni relations. Spend a year collaborating and incubating ideas around analytics with a focus on building proof of concept, knowledge, skills, and best practices. Create a bequest model and identify those in the donor portfolio best suited for a planned-giving conversation. Seek out executive support and budget approval to fund a dedicated analytics team;
  • Plan. Models are built on specific questions, so know what sorts of outcomes you’re looking for. Who is most likely to renew annual gifts? Who is most likely to upgrade their gift? Who is most likely to give a major gift? Figure out how you will use this information to inform and advocate as well as evaluate performance and usage;
  • Optimize outcomes. Summarize donors’ giving history in a score, 0 to 100. How recently, frequently, and how much has the donor given? Segment donors based on giving and evaluate whether segments tend to volunteer, respond to surveys, attend events, or engage in other ways. Build prospect pools and portfolios focused on those most likely to give; and,
  • Follow guiding principles. Communicate information through visual interfaces and build for organizational buy-in. Provide actionable information.