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When it comes to data, what’s the ‘other’ you speak of?

By Brent Collyer, Head of Analytics, Insights & Data

At our Benchmarking report presentations in Sydney and Melbourne our presenters were asked “what is the ‘other’ that you speak of?”

At 3.4% of total gifts received, or $47m of the total $1.4 billion income, ‘Other’ looks like it could be a good sort of giving.

‘Other’ can be made of many types of smaller giving including lottery, membership, merchandise, offertories, schools, payroll giving (very small and not showing promise despite everyone asking) and disasters, which can be significant.

But what we have also found after years of crunching the numbers for Benchmarking, ‘Other’ also represents individual donor data not being classified correctly – some $11m in 2018. Which for those gifts means that it becomes nearly impossible for you to append or derive any kind of value-add insight about your donor.

As fundraisers, our ability to execute our programs based on ‘data driven fundraising is critical to the heath and future of our missions.

Here’s our simple guide to help you get to know – and classify – your data better.

1.  Let’s start at ground zero. Is your data in good shape?

Data quality can have the single largest impact on revenue. And it needs to be clean so that it can be used to help boost the impact of the charitable causes that really matter.

But if you were to ask our Data Scientists what they do for much of their day, they would tell you that they spend a lot of it deep inside donor databases trying to work out what is unreliable data, poor quality data and just plain incorrect data.

The only way that you can fix this is to get the data capture correct up front.

So as a starting point as you set out on your data journey, you need to do the work to get the right clean data:

If possible, keep all of your data in one place

Invest in the fundamentals of hygiene, integrity and a good structure to build on

Standardise your data capture at the front end

Have disciplined processes and build a consistent training program for your staff

Regularly re-assess your practices

Undertake  regular data audits.

If you’re unsure as to how to start, talk to our Data Analytics team at Pareto Fundraising. You may be a position to execute the analytics yourself or you may prefer to find a partner like Pareto Fundraising to help you.

2. Work out the questions you want data to answer

When you have access to a lot of data, it’s tempting to look at everything. But when you do that you’re more likely to get lost in lines and lines of data and find you have nothing useful or actionable at the end.

So, don’t try to do everything with your data. Instead, start small and focus on a few key questions that you want answered.

As we often find at Pareto, no matter what the size of the organisation, there is probably only about half a dozen metrics that powerfully reveal the most essential metrics you need to know.

And these can include:

Year-on-year fundraising results

Donor engagement

Donor retention

Donor giving-level moves

Donor lifetime value

Over time, as your data expands and your understanding of your data evolves, so will the range of metrics and the insights they can provide.

3. Are you ready to commit to what data tells you?

Data-driven fundraising is simply fundraising that is informed by data, and not your intuition or someone else’s gut feel. It’s the application of an evidence based practice in fundraising.

And it empowers you to answer questions that may have been previously unanswerable.

To make the data work for your organisation make it easy for your team to access data analytics and insights and give the people in your organisation the insights that they require.

Dashboards are a fantastic management and communications tool to help you do just that. Pareto Fundraising’s FI Portal offers you a set of dashboards that monitor the most essential aspects of your fundraising activity. And you can create professional reports for your Board or your Executive quickly and accurately.

4.  Commit to data-driven fundraising in the long-term

As data will continue to play a critical role in developing relationships with donors, not-for-profits need to commit to long-term investment in understanding the way in which donors want to engage with your organisation.

When budgets get tight, it may be tempting to downgrade your investment in data. But the actual return on investment in data normally outweighs the cost through the following types of benefits:

Reduced print and mailing costs

Higher response rates

Higher donation levels

Better lifetime value as you engage you better engage your donors with your mission

Better investment of staff time in projects and donors that will give you a higher yield.

For an informal chat about how data-driven fundraising could help your organisation improve its fundraising results, please contact IVENFP.Benchmarking@ivegroup.com.au

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