Analyst Heaven

Analyst Heaven

I was imagining what heaven might look like for us fundraising analysts. By and large, fundraising analysts lead good lives here on planet earth. We help causes that really matter. We get to work indoors. Often, we can even work from home. We get to use our brains a lot, and fun tools like laptop computers and cool software like SPSS. However, the absolute bane of our existence is the abundance of really crappy data. The unglamorous fact of life for a fundraising analyst is that we spend most of our time trying to figure out whether the data we are working with is fit to analyze. The Great Lie is that a new CRM system or data warehouse will fix your crappy data problems. Short of a transcendent visit from the Data Angels, the only thing on this side of heaven that can fix crappy data are smart people who are willing to dive into messy databases and make sense of it all. My hope is that if and when I get to heaven, all the donor data will be spotless, and the channel coding will be standardized. What sweet hope this sentence...
The Bi-Polar Future of Fundraising

The Bi-Polar Future of Fundraising

There are two fundraising models that are heading in opposite directions. The traditional model is that you invest in new donor acquisition and then work to build a long-term relationship with those donors who, in turn, will faithfully support your cause. The emerging paradigm is a point-of-sale model, where an organization realizes all of its LTV with the donor’s first gift and no possibility of an ongoing relationship. One model is relational. One model is transactional. I see the industry struggling to “convert” transactional donors into the relational model. My sense is that this could be an expensive and futile effort. Rather, I believe the better approach may be to create distinct strategies optimizing each of these two very different fundraising...
Stop Worrying about Artificial Intelligence – Start Focusing on Augmented Intelligence

Stop Worrying about Artificial Intelligence – Start Focusing on Augmented Intelligence

This is the fourth in a series of blogs on 2018 trends. You can read about the first three trends here. The next trend for 2018 identified in the Forbes article is: Stop worrying about Artificial Intelligence. Start focusing on Augmented Intelligence. By that they mean leverage the data you already have with capable analysts. We could not agree more. If you have followed this blog very long, you will know one of our repetitive (and languishing) topics is the amount of resources some nonprofits spend on CRM systems compared to the amount they spend on people to gain insights from their current data. No CRM system will bring your organization insights. I think one of the common misconceptions is thinking: if only I had a state of the art database, all my decisions would be so much easier. What we have seen over and over again is that you don’t need to have a complex CRM system to enable insights. You just need some smart analysts. So, before you budget $X million on a new CRM system, try contracting with an analytics company for a year, and see if they can’t deliver the insights you require at a fraction of the...
Dual Channel/Schmual Channel

Dual Channel/Schmual Channel

Google the term “dual channel donors” and you will get a plethora of websites stating the virtues of cultivating donors via multiple channels. Some of this information is all myth. We’ve recently done several analyses on dual channel donors, and here’s what we found: They are a lot more valuable than single channel donors, but you already knew that. That’s partly because by definition they are two gift donors. But even when you control for that, dual channel donors are still give more than a donor giving 2 gifts in one channel But here’s the thing, dual channel donors are as rare as unicorns. In any given year, only about 3% of your file give in two or more channels. Most surprisingly, the year after they convert to dual channel behavior, most of these donors revert to single channel giving. And they are equally likely to be offline only giving the following year as online only. So, rather than focusing getting donors to give in two channels, which I think is a waste of time, concentrate on making it super easy for her to give in the channel of her...
The first half of 2015 is already coming to a close

The first half of 2015 is already coming to a close

The first half of 2015 is already coming to a close. And for many of our clients, so is their fiscal year. Here is my review of the state of fundraising so far. Most clients are still living this narrative: their active donor counts continue to slip; however the donors staying active are giving more generously. So from a revenue perspective, most organizations are experiencing growing revenue. But this is the first year I have seen a few clients where the increased giving of their donors is not mitigating the file decline. We may be at a tipping point. Encouragingly, last fall’s acquisition was the strongest it’s been for a number of years. Those organizations that are employing multi-channel efforts to support their direct mail acquisition showed the best performance. Despite improved acquisition performance, the time it takes for a donor to break even continues to be a concern. This is primarily because fewer new donors hang around to make a second gift. In the good old days of direct response fundraising, about 40% of new donors gave a second gift. That percentage is now under 30%. It’s hard to grow donor files with such a metric. Digital continues to be a growing source of revenue for nonprofits, but its growth rate is slowing. This makes sense, as it’s hard to keep up double-digit growth rates indefinitely. However, original forecasts that digital revenue would surpass traditional revenue in 2018 don’t seem likely. Direct mail is still the king of channels. The trend of nonprofit organizations taking their fundraising in-house and not using agencies continues to pick up momentum. Though...
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?!...