Category Archives: Fundraising Analytics

Predictive Analytics: a nice overview infographic

How nonprofits use analytics for fundraising.  An infographic on Twitpic
Thanks to the fine folks at Bentz Whaley Flessner (@BFW_Social) for this great infographic. Yay Donorcast!


Hey, Brother! Can I borrow your ‘Hey, Soul Classics?’ Oh, no, my brother, you have to buy your own…

No, I’m not a big freakin’ slacker.  I’m actually ahead on my hundred posts in a hundred days challenge.  The blog is actually running on the NTEN NTC site during the NTC conference.  I’ll do some cut-n-paste for individual sessions, ultimately, but I’m going to borrow from that blog today so it looks like I’m a functional human blogger:  here’s a link to my messy/grammatically-challenged live NTC  blog.

HAHD Kick-off … and I’m already filching from other media …

I was asked to post a little bit about myself for a conference website.  It’s fitting, I think, to kick off my ‘hundred article in a hundred days’ with a note about fundraising worldview.  Here tis:

I worked in higher education fundraising and public affairs in some capacity for 16 years.  During that time, I had a bunch of snazzy titles.  I really enjoyed my work, traveled the world, asked for millions of dollars in person, and raised a hella lot of money, always making or beating my goals.  And I burned out.  *sizzle*

So in 2006, I started my own firm so I could take the best of the “old skool” fundraising techniques, add meaningful ROI-proven Web 2.0 (am I a dunderhead because I don’t know what that phrase is meant to represent?) strategies, and increase the number of retained donors and dollars for my clients. The company works with npos in the US and Europe – we’re small but happy, and we drink a lot of overpriced frou frou coffees.

Here’s my deal:  I am a member of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) committee, an initiative started by the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) …props to Bill Levis and Cathlene Williams…, and co-sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Council for Resource Development (CRD), Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, and the National Committee on Planned Giving (NCPG).  My role thusfar has been to lead the creation of education programs to be used by organizations and chapters world-wide.

Here’s the goal:  Change the path of fundraising in a fundamental way.  In its 2008 report across 26 sub-segments of the nonprofit market, the FEP results demonstrate that, essentially, five out of every six dollars raised will be lost the subsequent year due to attrition.  This is Horrible ROI — it costs more to acquire donors than to retain them.

So I like to consider social network constructs for nonprofits with a clear mission — how will these approaches, in concert with more traditional methodologies, help us treat our donors well enough to increase loyalty and lifetime donor value, to think analytically to predict who of our present donors and prospective donors will likely give more and more often, and to change the fundamental appeal and retention strategies we use to keep the donors we add.”

Building a Fund-raising Mousetrap: a model study of appeal cost-effectiveness

So, if a big company is interested in underwriting a very large study on the cost-effectiveness of certain appeal types, this would be good, yes?


Posed with just such a question last week, I went into “thinking aloud” trance (those who know me will easily identify the look – dazed stare into the distance with occasional high-speed blinking, followed by rapid speech and many tangential comments and parenthetical thoughts, just like my writing!).  I was talking so much that I stopped eating fresh seafood in a coastal city, and that’s a rare moment indeed.

It just so happens that I was considering how I might present the fund-raising effectiveness analysis segment of a 75 minute AFP conference session and a 3 hour AFP training session, so I’m thinking about the down and dirty content.  If I were ever inclined to launch such a massive research project, I would be taking on tremendous responsibility to create and sustain a new industry standard in the midst of terrific legislative, statutory and wealth changes.  The acceptance of such a study would presume tremendous collaborative efforts in the sector!

There are so many variables to include in a research project, including: type of NPO (for example, is it a university or a research center or an arts center — how does it self-define in the absence of a SEC sub-category?); size of prospect and donor pools; geographic diversity; biographic diversity; definition of an appeal; definition of a cost; definition of gift; etc.  There is no standardization of these variables across software platforms, and this ain’t 990 info, so what is the standard for each variable for research’s sake?

So here’s my idea.  Wouldn’t it be most effective to run a small model project that will provide the opportunity to norm a large number of variables?  Yes!  Yes, it would!  And wouldn’t outcomes from the model project be a more realistic window through which we might peer at our effective fund-raising future?  Mais Oui!

I would select K-12 independent schools with an inclusive advancement operating budget between $750K-$1.5M (self-identified, or identified via benchmarking after a 990 search).  The annual average count of the donor and prospect pools of schools of this size and wealth would change little year to year because graduation class sizes typically hold steady over the decades.  With the exception of a small group of need-based scholarship students in more recent years, one can make a pretty basic set of assumptions about the alumni pool: wealth, gender differences, geographic disbursement, demographic and psychographic profiles, etc.  Additional populations, like parents, staff and corporations/foundations, would be of a small enough scale that they could be measured separately. Thus, the variable of types of solicitation or appeal method could be normed more easily.  Giving trending in this market would also be fairly stable, so small-scale variations could be identified more readily.  Measurement of a period of time either pre- or post-campaign (be it capital or other), or eliminating a statistically relevant percentage of the highest and lowest value gifts, would be important.  A crazy person might also look at identified date ranges that would show periods of stability in the Dow to norm out market fluctuations — one could presume a stable period of stock wealth in an individual’s personal wealth profile, and the income from estate-based appeals would make a lot more sense.  The affluent K-12 market happens to be a pretty important donor segment to follow right now, given the market issues and the presumed wealth transfer to come. 

I know this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but I’d like to do it.  I am a Freak…