Where does the “data person” at your charity have their office?
Is it in the basement? Away from sunlight?
Are they pale? With bloodshot eyes?
No, I’m not implying that “data people” are vampires…
But I am implying that we don’t think of them as the “sexy” part of our organization.
And that’s wrong! Data is sexy!
You know who knows that? The for-profit world. Think of something awesome like… PC Plus.
PC Plus is my local supermarket’s loyalty/rewards program. So if you don’t have PC Plus, think of the same type of program at your supermarket. Or Air Miles! Same idea.
Here’s the gist: I buy my weekly groceries and when I scan my PC Plus card at the end of my purchase, the supermarket knows exactly what I’m buying. I get points for what I’m buying, and then I get offers for more points based on what I most frequently buy. Because I’m getting points, which turn into dollars off future purchases, I feel I’m benefitting from the process. The supermarket is definitely benefitting because not only are they encouraging more purchases – through the points – they’re also getting oodles of data on buyers’ behaviour, which they can use to make better business decisions, and to make more money.
Are we – charities – using data to raise more money?
We are way behind the for-profit world in this area. Sure, we have a lot less money to play around with for this type of thing, but we’re still not investing nearly enough of what we do have.
What if we invested money and time in paying more attention to our donors’ behaviour?
What if we tracked what campaigns they do and don’t give to throughout the year and stopped mailing them for the ones they don’t give to, and doubled our efforts in soliciting them for the ones they do?
What if we tested using different messaging and creative for different genders? Or different age groups? If we segmented our data that way, tracked the performance for the different test groups, and then spent some time considering the insights we drew from that… wouldn’t that change the way we fundraise?
And if we found one approach better than another… or different approaches better for different segments, we’d raise more money by implementing those moving forward.
Isn’t that what we want to do?
Raise more money?!?!
The simple truth is that we’re not using our data as well as we can, and we’re missing opportunities to raise more money – and be better fundraisers – along the way.
Some of us can afford to invest more in this than others, but all of us can afford to try something new in 2016. Even something small.
So that’s my first challenge of the new year to you: try something new with your data.
And please report back in the comments!
Good luck, and Happy New Year!
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over nine years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.