Should you conduct your own survey? If you have to ask, then no.

Online software such as Survey Monkey and Google Forms have made the power of survey research available to anyone with an internet connection rendering us a society of survey experts. And WebMD has made us all doctors… And Pinterest has made us all pastry chefs… Do you see my point already? Bill Jacobs and I share an alma mater in Northern Arizona University where we both managed survey projects for the Social Research Laboratory while obtaining our graduate degrees in Sociology. Although our time at NAU was over a decade apart, we were first connected to each other by a mutual mentor from the lab. Since then, we have shared in conducting hundreds of surveys for non-profit, as well as commercial, governmental and private clients. From time to time we get to witness the horror of the “in-house” survey. It sort of reminds me of the local news every Fourth of July when you hear about all the amateur fireworks accidents. The perceived simplicity and relative user-friendliness of the survey tools mentioned above have resulted too many times in false confidence and ‘shoot from the hip’ research. Sometimes we’ll be called in to make sense of a bad survey, but the problem is that once the data collection is done, it’s too late. At best you have useless data. At worst, you’ve been making bad decisions off of bad insights. So, how do you know if you should conduct your own survey? I’ve put together a list of top-line questions about the process. If you feel comfortable about your answers below, survey away! Sampling: • How do I create a...

What would you do about next year’s results if you had them today?

“His name is Gary Hobson. He gets tomorrow’s newspaper today. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know why. All he knows is when the early edition hits his doorstep, he has twenty-four hours to set things right.” -Synopsis of “Early Edition” American TV Show (1996-2000) Remember this show? What if you could be the Gary Hobson of fundraising? What if you knew your new acquisition offer was going to bomb? Or, what if you had confidence that your bold new direction was going to pay off? You would almost certainly make different decisions. What if I told you that this power was real and that you can use it now? It isn’t magic. It’s market research. “Offer Forecasting” is a survey analysis Analytical Ones has developed to test new offers on your donors before you invest the time, money and opportunity costs into full execution. Political consultants and pollsters use a similar process of “message testing” to determine what language will win campaigns. We test new content (image, copy, etc.) on a statistically representative sample of your acquisition market, or current donors, to determine their propensity to support an array of fundraising offers. We test against a control offer for baseline results. Our methodology has been proven valid by back-testing our survey results against the successful direct mail tests they predicted. In plain English: Before you decide on your next direct mail test. Let us conduct a survey to gain input from those who matter most: the target audience. It gives you a no-risk platform to test a wider range of ideas and it can save you the lost...

American voters still have the blues, what about donors?

Before running surveys for non-profits, I was a political polling nerd. While perusing the latest results I decided it would be interesting to run an experiment. All the major polling organizations have their own version of tracking the mood of American voters. I wondered what would happen if we asked our nation’s donors the same questions. I chose a mood indicator used by several organizations and conducted an online poll1  of 600 donors from across the United States. Mood indicator: “All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?” To be a donor, the respondent had to have given a gift to a non-profit organization not including a Church or other house of worship in the past 12 months. I am using the latest report from Rasmussen2 to compare the voter results to our donor study. In short, the mood of American donors is similarly divided on political lines. Conservatives feel much less optimistic about the future than liberals. This was expected since we can assume there is an enormous degree of overlap between donors and voters. However, while liberal voters are divided in their mood, liberal donors are a majority optimistic. See below. Without tracking this over time our interpretive power is limited. For example, we do not know whether these are highs or lows for any group and therefore cannot judge these results in the context of current events. There is however one conclusion that can safely be drawn from this data: Liberals who make non-profit donations are...
Join me for a free online fundraising conference

Join me for a free online fundraising conference

Interested in learning how analytics can improve your overall fundraising program by helping you win new donors, lift the giving of your current donors and keep your donors active longer?  Then join me for the the free on-demand Better Fundraising Conference.  You will get expert advice on fundraising, financing, marketing, story telling, building capital campaigns and much more! This conference was designed to be enjoyed anytime by downloading the on-demand recordings and content. Perfect for nonprofit leaders, managers, marketing directors, fundraising professionals, board members and CEO’s. Today is the last day to register, so click here to sign up and you can start enjoying access to the conference seminars, content and training resources beginning June 11th, 2014. And, did I mention its FREE?!...
State by State Comparison of Pre and Post-Recession Charitable Giving

State by State Comparison of Pre and Post-Recession Charitable Giving

There has been a lot of discussion during the Great Recession and in its wake about how it has effected charitable giving in the United States.  Analytical Ones has just refreshed the IRS data we use in our Share of Wallet analyses and has taken this opportunity to look at how giving has changed at a state by state level. Below is a map of the continental US that displays the change in annual charitable giving between 2008 and 2011. The data comes directly from the IRS and is based on deductions taken on federal income tax returns. It appears the Southwest was hit the worst with Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico all with residents giving less overall in 2011 than in 2008. 7 other states also experienced a net decrease in giving (AK,LA,DE,OK,SC,HI,WY). In contrast, the Northern Plains was an area of significant growth with a cluster of 4 states (ND,SD,NE,IA) all increasing over 10%. The typical state nationwide had somewhere less than 10% growth in annual giving. Massachusetts is the only other state with more than 10% growth. However, giving in Washington D.C. also increased 13%. Below are the values by state alphabetically. If you would like to see the changes in a more specific market (County, City or Zip Code) reach out to us and we would be happy to help. State Change AK -9% AL 1% AR 4% AZ -4% CA 4% CO 4% CT 2% DC 12% DE -2% FL 2% GA 5% HI -1% IA 11% ID 3% IL 3% IN 4% KS 6% KY 3% LA -3% MA 12% MD 5% ME...