Monthly Archives: March 2015

Finding out why

Sometimes when I read articles about fundraising practices, the stories hit close to home.  Like this one over at 101Fundraising. Essentially, the article laments that our CRM systems do a great job of itemizing transactions, but a really poor job of revealing WHY things happen.  Like, for instance, why donors lapse.  Could be a variety of reasons outside of our control.  But what if there were a few things we could control that would actually promote donor retention (if only we knew about them)?

 

Here’s what I mean by that.

 

Remember about a month ago when I mentioned how my alumni organization had called and asked me to give?  I was happy to do so.  A month later, my happiness has begun to fade.  During our original phone chat, Hilary asked me if I wanted to receive any university decals for my car.  I told her I didn’t want them to send me anything.

 

So a couple of weeks ago I receive this big package with a wooden plaque and an envelope full of car stickers.

wah wah

Right.  That was me thinking:  what am I supposed to do with this stuff?  Didn’t they listen to me when I said I didn’t want to receive anything?  Doesn’t their CRM system know what to do with that information?  Apparently not.  And that’s exactly the point Charlie Hulme is trying to make in his article.

 

Do our donors experience any Debbie Downer moments?  Truth is, we don’t know.  We only notice after they lapse, but we never know why.  We just continue to spend money sending them mail with a speck of hope they’ll miraculously start giving again.

 

If you have any insight you’d like to share, let me know!

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Bookmark this – Geomancer

Introducing Geomancer – a free and easy way to append publicly available demographic information to your excel spreadsheet by matching to your City, State or Zipcode columns.

 

Seriously, in less than 1 minute I went from this (very generic test file)

geomancer_before

to this enhanced file – I chose the 3 appended columns from the options available based on City & State in my original sheet.

geomancer_after

 

 

Just to be sure, I tried it again with zipcode matching.  Here’s the before–

geomancer_before2

and the after!

geomancer_after2

 

Seriously, 1 minute.  Easy and free.  What’s not to love?

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Nurturing creativity

From Fast Data – how to stay creative when you feel stuck–

 

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Bookmark this – constituent scoring methodology

We’re familiar with the basic RFM score.  There’s the blackjack score.  But the other day I stumbled across a Salsa scoring case study.

 

While Salsa has a particular focus on email delivery and online calls-to-action, the overarching methodology is impressive.  Here’s how it works:  first it defines groups of variables that can receive a numeric score for demonstrated constituent involvement.  Then it identifies a timeframe for each.  The algorithm degrades score value by half after the timeframe expires.  In this way, the most recently interacting constituents have higher scores than constituents whose interaction has lapsed.

 

salsa

 

The case study outlines the scoring variables for email opens/clicks, donations, and other non-monetary participation actions.  It’s genius!  Click the image above to read the full case study.

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APRA GH Job Board

Opportunities are still coming your way on our job board.  Don’t forget to keep up with the changes and refer your friends and colleagues!  Check out the job board here.

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Trendline: personalization

We’re all in agreement on applying personalized greetings to the correspondence we send to our donors, studying our website visitor demographics to craft appealing content and even generating different versions of our outbound email communications depending on the recipient segment.  These are all best practices in personalization.

 

Imagine my surprise when I read about a creative way to deliver an annual report with a fun, personalized flourish!  Yes, even the dry annual report can become a vehicle to engage and inspire our constituents with a bit of creativity.  BigDuck Communications highlighted the idea in a recent blog post that you can read here.  The innovative organization who created the report was Warby Parker, the uber popular maker of eye glasses.

 

But the fun doesn’t stop there.  After you customize your report, you get the choice to post it to the social media channel of your choice, and in the case of the BigDuck reader, the Warby Parker social media team interacted with her via her social media channel after she made her post.  Which of course, would make anyone feel extra special.

 

So what about it?  Sign me up!

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50 most community minded companies

The Points of Light and Bloomberg have compiled their annual list:  the Civic 50.  The companies selected were based on 4 dimensions of community engagement, including investment and impact.

civic50

 

Click on the image above to access the article.

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A heart-felt thank you message

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my alumni organization called and I finally made a gift.  Finally.  After they asked.  Then the next day I got an email thanking me for the gift.  I didn’t even open it until I started writing this blog post.  It was a pretty standardized message.  That’s all I was really expecting.  Until now.

Today I read this article by Ann Green who is compelling us to add just an ounce of creativity and heart into our standardized thank you messages.  And seriously, why not?  How could that possibly hurt anything?

 

Clue:  it can’t hurt.  So include an engaging video, photo montage and links to stories or news items that will create a better experience.

 

I was in a meeting with a brilliant colleague the other day who reminded me that stewarding our donors’ gifts is just one part of the multi-faceted donor relations experience.  Our challenge is to relate to them and make them feel awesome about their involvement with our missions.

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The most important argument

Michael Schrage, research fellow and faculty member at MIT’s Sloan School of Executive Education asks:  What is the most important argument your organization is having now?

Organizations that are paying attention to external influences, changing conditions, new opportunities and internal metrics are trying to think of ways to change, to grow, to get better.  And organizational debate is part of that process.

image via theguardian.com

Last week I was on an uncomfortable conference call.  One party on the call inquired about being able to quantify the benefit of pursuing a particular project effort.  The truth is, in order to measure actual uplift, we would need to modify our approach in one or two business areas.  In order to modify our approach, we would need to have sufficient motivation that our current performance is weak and could be easily remedied.  We’d need some solid facts.

 

But I digress.  Sort of.

I was reading this article from Juice Analytics.  They indicated that one of the hallmarks of a data fluent culture was the ongoing practice of asking questions, inspired by examining data.  This is so aligned with the kind of culture that Michael Schrage discusses. Read more about that here.

Examining data touches my job.  It touches all of our jobs.  Our jobs are to measure, to verify, to inform, to recommend.

 

Back to the conference call.  It’s hard to draw a straight line from an idea to a possible (optimistic) outcome.  However, the conversation made me realize there are some things I could be doing a lot better in my job to keep my organization informed.  I could openly communicate more information about our donor segments, striving for as much data transparency as possible.  I could pose more questions to our constituent data, and deliberately search for opportunities for improvement.  I could fearlessly make recommendations from my unbiased position based on my own analysis.

 

I’d like to hear your thoughts about keeping your organizations informed.  Or about establishing a culture of data fluency and important arguments.

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Bookmark this — measuring your impact

Consultants, donor interviews and research papers tell us that donors give because they want to make a difference.  And some donors are truly committed to driving social change.

And this is why we need to understand how to communicate the impact of our good works.  This week’s recommended bookmark is a tool for doing just that. via galleryhip.com

The Success Equation is a methodology for demonstrating progress in quantitative terms.  Jason Saul is the creator of this methodology.  To read more about his approach, click on the ruler.

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