Building Donor Profiles: An Adventure in Data Enhancement

Building Donor Profiles

So you’ve been told all about how your database is going to revolutionize your fundraising and overall organizational effectiveness. You’ve been tracking your donor activity and it’s a great place to look for contact information, but how exactly is it helping you grow your fundraising? You’ve heard the old phrase: garbage in, garbage out, but what about diamonds in, diamonds out? If you’re using your database effectively, then you have plenty of historical data on all of your contacts and know who your best donors are. But you can go one step further by adding new dimensions to your dataset such as personal wealth information, giving propensity, current address information, and other indicators you can use to help refine your fundraising.

There is a host of information available about most of us as a by-product of our increasingly digital lives. Several companies in the big data marketplace are clearinghouses for this aggregated information and can use full names, address, email, phone, and other key pieces of your constituents’ information to match to datasets from government agencies, credit unions, and so on to provide some insights into your existing and potential donors. You can use this information to guide your fundraising and help you concentrate efforts on those most likely to give and on those who might be able to give the most.

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A Tale of Two Intranets

Tale of two intranets

An intranet – an internal internet – is a very useful tool for any organization. Having a centralized file-sharing system is key to collaboration. Many nonprofits today use a shared network drive on their office network (LAN) as a basic sort of intranet. However, nonprofits often struggle with keeping that shared space from getting full of clutter: multiple versions of the same documents, a crazy confusing folder tree, running out of space or simply not being able to find what you need. Everyone agrees it’s probably time to clean up the mess but it’s a herculean task that’s easier to put off in favor of more pressing needs.

Often, the best recipe for success is to actually have two intranets: one that is web-based and carefully curated, and one that is allowed to run with little oversight. There are many platforms you could choose to use for each of these, but perhaps one of the simplest is a private section of your own website, plus that shared network drive you’ve already been using.

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Learn to Love Fixing Your Reports

Learn to Love Fixing Your Reports

So you’ve just migrated to a new CRM, or implemented a major change to your database and excitedly you decide to run some important reports on fundraising or program participation. But the first time you do – everything looks wrong! “Why did we just spend all this money,” you start to ask. “My reports need to be correct and reliable!” Well, of course that’s the point of reporting – to have a clear and accurate reflection of various slices of your constituents’ information. However in practice that’s rarely what you get the first time you go to create a report, especially on new data or especially after you’ve just migrated to a new CRM. You must often go track down some missing or bad data or you need to control for more variables in your data than you anticipated at first.

Reports reflect the status of your data and your understanding of it, so a report that looks “wrong” to you is usually an indication that you and your organization need to do some learning. You’ll find that what you learn drives efficiency and mutual understanding among departments. It’s part of a vital exercise which serves to improve the overall effectiveness of what your organization does.

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Pop Quiz: Do you Know These 14 Email Marketing Terms?

Email Marketing Terms

Recently we explored Things to Consider When Selecting an Email Solution for your Organization. Today we’ll dig a bit deeper into email marketing terminology.

Understanding and appraising an Email Service Provider (ESP) can be a daunting exercise. Not only are there dozens of providers in the marketplace today, there is also a whole vocabulary of terms that you need to be familiar with before you can accurately compare providers and get the most out of the platform you choose to adopt. Making matters worse, providers aren’t 100% consistent with how and where they use very similar terms.

The most important thing I have found to be true when having to compare systems is that there are often many small details that you need to tease out of testing and reading documentation to get a full understanding of exactly how a particular piece of functionality works. Take the term “template” for example. It can mean anything from a very bare-bones notion of layout, to a nearly finished design complete with logo, fonts, link colors, and even some content. There are many variations therein as well.

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