Tag Archives: analytics

Measuring Affinity

With a variety of internal and external data easily available, prospect researchers and analysts are able to provide greater insight to reach their organization’s goals. In order for data to help grow the prospect pipeline and inform decisions, one must be able to turn this data into valuable measurements.

I learned this first-hand in my initial attempt to create an affinity score to assist with prospect identification. To prepare for the task, I asked myself a series of questions. Some of those questions included:

What is affinity?

How do I define affinity for my organization?

Who would I consider has a high affinity for my organization?

What data is available to me that supports the statement, “a constituent has a high affinity?”

Do all significant donors or volunteers represent their affinity in the same way?

Which data points that are common between “high affinity constituents” and new prospects are, or are not, coincidental?

Which data points have greater ‘weight’ than others?

Which data points should have a maximum capacity in the resulting total score?

 

All of these and more were critical in my attempt to create a score.

Please note the use of the word ‘attempt’ above. I stress this because there is quite a bit of trial and error in the path to a final product. This is a project where one must continuously validate, adapt and iterate until the results successfully inform the decisions of your team.

Do not be afraid to try this on your own. There are services that can help with the process, but Excel is a great tool to begin the data manipulation required to calculate your score. Whether or not you use Excel or a specialized application for developing a score, it does not eliminate the need to question and understand affinity for your organization.

So I ask you, what is affinity for your organization?

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Case study – planned giving prospecting

Perusing the Prospect-DMM recently, I spotted an entry from Michael Pawlus of Grand Valley State University.  He generously shared his presentation slides from the APRA International conference in New Orleans.

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He steps you through a scenario of how to build a segmentation score for planned giving donors if you don’t have the resources or time to invest in extensive modeling.  His method encourages us to first look to our own intuition and check to see if our assumptions are true. What a great approach!

While it’s impossible to receive the full impact of Michael’s presentation just by reading his slides, his underlying messages are clear and easy to understand.  Click on the slide image to open the deck.

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Persuasion modeling – the next big thing

The next frontier of predictive modeling is not about predicting a possible outcome for each constituent (such as identifying constituents who are most likely to lapse, renew, make a planned gift, etc.).  The next frontier of predictive modeling is known as persuasion modeling.

 

The objective is to predict the type of contact method your organization should apply to each constituent in the data base to maximize that constituent’s chance of a successful outcome (such as renewing, or not lapsing).   I just happened to find a link to the keynote address video from the 2013 Predictive Analytics World conference where the speaker, Eric Siegel, described the method.  It is a truly informative presentation and completely easy to understand.

 

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Here’s an article from HP’s Chris Surdak on why persuasion modeling is the next big thing.  He writes it from a for-profit point of view, but the same principles apply to our sector too.  We not only want to know which communication channel will likely have the greatest positive effect on each constituent, but we also want to know whether we should be using that communication channel at all!  Reaching out could possibly have an unintended negative effect, so we only want to employ more expensive levels of communication treatment (like call centers) to those constituents likely to be persuaded to give again.

 

Definitely take a look at the video, it is illuminating and will make you feel like you’ve got the inside scoop on analytics best practices.

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Countdown to Summer Workshop 2015

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We absolutely can’t wait and hope to see you there!

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Building a culture of data fluency

For the eleventy-hundredth time I read an article stating that organizations who base their strategic decision making on data out-perform organizations who don’t.

No longer surprising, right?

So what’s the big deal?  Why isn’t every organization taking full advantage of the data we so carefully input, record and store?

That question is also discussed a lot in these days too.  Seems that it’s pretty difficult to get people to change their behavior (eg, adopt a data driven mindset) if no one is comfortable with the concept of understanding data.

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The headline above is from an article in Forbes dated October 2014 by H. O. Maycotte.  Mr. Maycotte explains that complex analysis from a business point of view involves a LOT of data.  He says most people just don’t know where to start analyzing and frankly don’t have the right tools to help them accomplish the work.

 

The central issue is getting people comfortable with understanding the data related to the programs they support.

 

Recently, TechTarget published a case study highlighting an online-lending organization who is taking their employees through a week-long data boot camp to build data fluency throughout their organization.

Their goal is to be one of the companies who out-perform their peers by taking advantage of data and they’re equipping their employees with some essential skills:

  • asking for the data they need
  • summarizing their competed analysis
  • presenting their findings.

They’ve adopted new management policies to require hard facts to support all decisions.  So if you’re trying to get your department or program to move forward, you’ve got to be able to present your case.

Click on the TechTarget logo above to read the case study and find out more.  And for more discussion on the topic, click here.

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Survey results – 6th annual fundraising analytics community

The BWF consulting team just compiled results from the 6th annual nonprofit survey on the way our industry is leveraging data analytics.  The survey covers the kinds of projects we perform, the statistical methods used, tools/software used, personnel mix, how we measure value, and staff competency.

While most of us apply analytics for better prospecting, since last year’s survey, there’s been increased interest in pursuing other business challenges like financial forecasting and program performance analysis.

 

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The report is very insightful, particularly on the discussion pertaining to analysis methods.  The BWF team appears to believe we, as an industry, could be taking better advantage of addressing some questions that are central to our core business models, vis-a-vis time series analysis.

 

Take a minute to read – just click on the image above.

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Making the move to research analytics

The business analysis skills mandatory in successful for-profit entities are equally as important for nonprofits. The career jump from prospect research to research analytics is a natural.  That’s why I found this article from STATtr@k so illuminating – 10 tips for entering the analytics career ladder.

 

My favorites are #2: get experience with large real-world data sets, #7: familiarize yourself with the industry, and #10: network. Here’s my own two-cents on these 3 pointers, since the author didn’t approach the article from a nonprofit point of view.

  • Real-world data sets.  Everyone in our profession has access to data, so start exploring!  Count the number of donors last month by gift size, by giving capacity, by state, by age.  Learn more about your data.  If that exercise is too simple, then pose a business question to yourself that is more challenging and solve it!
  • Become familiar with our industry.  Read the online blogs from the top consulting firms, software vendors and services providers to understand the kinds of solutions they are implementing in other organizations.
  • Network.  The Prospect DMM list is a great way to join the conversation and involvement with APRA Greater Houston is an excellent opportunity too.

Click on the image above to read the original article from STATtr@k.

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