By Rich Palmer • November 10, 2016

Tap Into Insights Hidden Within Your Data

In this age of big data where big box stores can figure out if we're pregnant before we know it can be intimidating to understand how it all works, never mind the creep factor. But I am here to tell you we have an incredible opportunity to harness the power of our data to enhance our fundraising efforts and further your organization's mission.

Predictive analytics refers to a set of techniques (e.g. data mining, modeling) used to make highly-educated guesses of future outcomes. Okay, think of it like having your own personal weatherman, but instead of learning that it's going to rain on Tuesday it can tell you that Randy is ready to make another contribution. And with better precision than your local weatherman. You have limited resources. These insights can give you a timely advantage when it comes to deciding which prospects your frontline fundraisers should focus on.

I spent a decade building complex systems to predict and inform outcomes in simple ways for Wall Street, Healthcare IT, and consumer information companies. I am thrilled to be applying these insights to support the wonderful missions of our nonprofit clients.

Here are three reasons you should make friends with predictive analytics and tap into the hidden insights within your data.

1. Become your own myth buster.

"This is how we've always done it."

How many times have you heard this? Is it ever a satisfying response?

Many fundraising operations rely on the wisdom and experience of those at the helm. The risk we run is the opportunity cost by solely following advice like this. Introducing a methodology that embraces data-driven decisions can greatly increase the effectiveness of your fundraising effort.

It also increases your appetite for experimentation.

Imagine that you've been sending handwritten cards to lapsed donors each month reminding them that it's been a year since their last gift. You've been doing this for the four years. After all, common intuition says that if they gave in November last year, they'll probably want to do that again, right? Let's test that assumption. Run your lapsed donor list for the current month and generate a list using the power of prediction. Compare the names on the two lists. Is there much overlap? Then, contact everyone on both lists in an identical manner and see which list performs the best.

You just might uncover a better way.

2. Keep your fundraisers focused on what they do best.

"They're never going to call me back."

You've caught yourself uttering this before, especially as the year progresses.

Frontline fundraisers with donor portfolios gain a sense of confidence when it comes to their assigned prospects as time goes on. After the third email or phone call, the umpteenth attempt to invite her for lunch, you begin to worry. And now you are scrambling to maximize your time on an upcoming trip to visit donor prospects. If you are lucky, research might run you a list of unassigned donors who are rated, but now you need to figure out which ones to call first.

The best use of your time is staying focused on building relationships with those whose passions and philanthropic priorities match your institutions. Not determining a way to parse through a list of prospects.

Let predictive analytics do the heavy lifting — actually, it's more like sifting. Identify the biggest potential donors in that moment of need with a tool like Gravyty by seeing patterns in things like your donors' giving behavior.

Better yet, you might learn the right moment to call that person a fourth time.

3. Elevate more donors into your major gift categories.

"Expect someone to make nine annual gifts before they make a major gift."

It's likely you've heard some variation on this. 

General rules of thumb are nice, but it suggests hard and fast rules potentially leading to less than optimum results. And what's the "rule" for those major gift donors who are ready to increase their investments with your organization?

Instead, apply the same predictive insights beyond who to solicit. AI-powered maps can illustrate regions in need of your attention or even who to call just to say "Hello" and "Thanks" to maintain your relationship.

The insights you gain from predictive intelligence are not one-size-fits-all, but rather based on data you already know giving you a handcrafted dashboard to your day.

It's easy to get carried away imagining how else this knowledge can be applied to your work. Let us help you. Contact us today and we'll setup an individual in-person or virtual demo so you can stop imagining and start seeing how Gravyty and predictive intelligence can help you raise more money.

Not sure if your organization is ready for predictive analytics? Last week we spoke about how technology can offer valuable tools when it comes to fundraising and included some recommendations as you assess your organizational needs.

Still not sure? Contact us to discuss whether Gravyty is a good fit for you.

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