16th July 2015John Spry
Data as a catalyst for discussion
A discussion on data with an organisation’s leadership can spark lively and fruitful discussions, and it is always great when senior staff engage with what is sometimes seen as ‘back room’ stuff, for we know that good data and analysis is absolutely vital for fundraising success.
Now imagine the scene – you and the leadership, discussing the implementation of a new database. What kind of discussions will arise? A recent project by the Philanthropy Company brought up the following questions:
– Who should be able to access the data?
– What information should we store about relationships?
– Does the data support regular giving and one-off gifts?
– How will reports be generated? In fact, what would we like to report on?
– How do we allocate funds to different projects?
– Who has oversight of the projects?
– How do we track fundraising?
– What about restricted funds?
– What about mailings?
– Who are we likely to mail?
These discussions touched on every area of a fundraising campaign: it was about the whole and not just about the data. Sometimes seen as boring and lifeless, data has a surprising role to play in generating institutional buy-in and leading staff through a thought process needed for a coherent and well structured fundraising campaign. Equally, perhaps the condition of data provides a snapshot of fundraising effectiveness: is it organised, well managed, comprehensive and accessible? Or is it chaotic, sparse, disconnected and inaccessible?
What does your data say about your organisation?