4 Ways You Can Use Analytics To Power Your Fundraising Success

There are few things in fundraising or business that are associated with more hype and perceived barriers to entry than analytics right now.

The benefits can be remarkable and easy to see once you know about them, but lots of folks are nervous to get started because it seems like a jungle with a potentially expensive downside. crab trap abandoned

But it’s worth getting down into the weeds, even a little bit, to avoid missing out on the gold trapped in your data, waiting to be discovered.

So to illustrate some of the benefits, I thought I’d highlight just four of the many ways that analytics can impact your fundraising success immediately. Here are a few areas where analytics really shines:

  1. Identification: Where are the real gems?

Let’s say Robin and Jim have each given gifts totaling $9,000 to your organization over the years. On paper, in giving and other characteristics, let’s say they look the same. But what if one characteristic is different: Jim has been giving at an ever-increasing rate over the past four years. Analytics will help you find a list of people just like Jim who are either increasing their gift size or making more frequent donations (or both!).

  1. Campaign Readiness: Who will give to hard-to-fund projects?

At some point in every nonprofit’s life, there comes a time to fund a special interest area (a library, a building, a special project) that appeals to just a few people. This is one area where analytics can really shine! By accessing data from social media, from a screening vendor, from across your organization, or from your CRM database (just to name a few) you can identify people who have raised their hand showing interest.

  1. Organizational Management: Which staffers are our stars?

It’s easy to look at the end-of-year numbers to see which fundraiser has raised the most money. But as we think about future assignments, wouldn’t it be interesting to see…

  • Who has had the most success with donors in their 50s? (or women, or Republicans, or whichever demographic you’d like to pick).
  • Which staffer on your team has gotten the most discovery visits from cold calls? What lessons can they teach the rest of the team?
  • Which researcher has identified the prospects leading to the most gifts? What’s their secret sauce?
  1. Visualizing Gaps and Successes: Where is there opportunity?

One of the best things about analytics right now is the wide array of visualization tools that turn data into illustrations that inform and create action. Imagine a map of the geographic areas where there are lots of members but few donors to your organization. What might you do differently?

And these are just four areas – analytics can answer hundreds of questions for you across most  fundraising departments.


Learn a little more:

Creative Bloq. The 37 best tools for data visualization.

Information Age. How Big Data Can Help Businesses Dodge Mistakes

Attend the APRA Data Analytics Symposium, held during the APRA annual conference in New Orleans on July 22-23, 2015. For more info and to register, visit the APRA website.

Analytics: 4 simple terms everybody should know

eggIn a world where computer processing power doubles every 18 months and disk storage density doubles every year, no matter what industry we’re in, we’ve all got a lot of valuable data sitting idle. It’s just sitting there inside that computer-shell, waiting to be discovered.

Even less-than-perfect data situations (a crummy database, or records that haven’t been updated regularly, for example) have important stories to tell us about what we’ve done well (or badly) and where opportunity lies. You don’t need Big Data to get big answers. [Read more…]

Using Analytics to Pull Away From the Pack

raceHow are top-performing organizations pulling away from their peers? In many cases, it’s through an understanding and clever usage of analytics. This week we welcome HBG Senior Researcher and analytics student and practitioner, Heather Willis, to The Intelligent Edge. Heather shares some of the latest studies with tips on the most important things organizations should do to take advantage of the data available to them.

So: are you a Pacesetter or a Dabbler? What do I mean by that? As you probably already know, we are in the midst of significant change in how we deal with and use the massive amount of data that is being created and collected each day. [Read more…]

Becoming what they’re interested in

Chances are good that you didn’t watch the Superbowl for the game. Me neither – usually. My team was in it this year, which was cool, but like most people, I was there for the ads.  Budweiser puppy

In fact, seventy percent of us usually watch the Superbowl just to see the commercials – those clever and frequently serialized stories that (they hope) grab us and make us talk about them the next day as we’re standing around in a group waiting for the Keurig to spit out the last little bit of our morning brews. [Read more…]

BRICS are out the window; it’s MINT that’s growing now

Minted CaesarIt’s that rich time of year when you make a large pot of something hot to drink, grab a cookie or three, and settle down to read about the wealthy. The really really wealthy.

Out now are the Forbes Billionaires list (with a record 290 newcomers), and the 2015 Knight Frank Wealth Report, providing a global perspective on ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) and the variety of ways they hold assets.

If the collective wealth of these 172,850 UHNWIs – clocking in at nearly $21 trillion – was the fuel moving a private jet, the sonic boom would be so stratospheric that the astronauts in the international space station would be able to hear it. According to the K F report, an average of 15 people joined the ranks of the ultra-wealthy every day last year. But even that group doesn’t have money like some have money. K F say:

“Moving up the wealth brackets, nearly 1,180 people became centa-millionaires in 2014, taking the world’s total population of those worth over $100m to 38,280.” [Read more…]

Billions of Possibilities

This month, I’m delighted that HBG Senior Researcher Elizabeth Roma shares her insights on Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) and their potential to affect transformational change in the world through philanthropy. Elizabeth and Kenny Tavares have been studying the infrastructure and impact of HNW Family Offices, and she will present a session on the topic in June at the Mid-Atlantic Researchers Conference in Baltimore.  I hope you’ll be able to join her there!


Do you want to hear something that will blow your mind?

In 2010 there were 388 billionaires whose combined wealth was equal to the combined wealth of the poorest 50% of the world’s population.

Amazing, right? But that’s nothing.

In 2014 there were 80 people whose combined wealth equaled that of the poorest 50%. According to a report from Oxfam, the wealth of those 80 people has doubled since 2009. If these trends continue, Oxfam predicts that the richest 1% will have more wealth than the remaining 99% by 2016 (yes, that’s next year).

Things are changing, and not necessarily for the better (at least not for those of us in the 99%). But does this have to be all bad news? [Read more…]

Coming Out (Again)


As you may recall, March is Prospect Research Pride Month.

It’s also Development Services Pride, Operations Pride, Relationship Management Pride, and Analytics Pride Month. It’s a time to celebrate each of us who work behind the scenes every day as part of Team Overhead to ensure our nonprofits’ fundraising successes.


Because there are still misguided folks out there who actually believe that the business of creating a better world can be done with donated chewing gum, dental floss and duct tape. MacGyver may have used that amalgam to fashion an escape from a sticky situation, but you never saw him pulling a million refugees over a border with them. [Read more…]

When I get in control of the world

Airplane cockpit

When faced with mindless bureaucracy, or an inefficient line at a commercial or government establishment, my mom was known to mutter, “When I get in control of the world…” and then she’d voice her solution. As a kid, her answer usually made sense to me. As a teen, I would sidle off pretending I didn’t know her. As an adult, I started hearing the exact same sentence coming out of my own mouth. When I get in control of the world…

Wouldn’t it be nice to be in control of the world sometimes and be able to change the stuff that doesn’t make any sense?
Like long lines at women’s bathrooms at events when the men’s line is empty, for example.

Or more seriously, things like… [Read more…]

Play well with others? Good for your bottom line!


How good is your customer service? Here at HBG, we talk a lot about how we partner with our clients. I’ve noticed that our devotion to customer care flows over into the way we work together as a team, too. As HBG Operations Assistant extraordinare Alisa Morgan found out, it works the other way as well. Here’s what Alisa found out:

When someone mentions customer service, we immediately think of ourselves on the phone or in the store receiving some product or service in exchange for payment. “Did that rep greet me, take my order and solve my problem with a smile and a thank you?” [Read more…]