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Leadership Monday – Your Role in the Data Mining – Ensuring the Process

In a world of changing donor profiles, it’s more important than ever to allocate financial resources in the most efficient way possible. Donors, many of whom are business people themselves and well aware of progress made in the private sector with regard to analytics, are insisting that their gifts be used in ways that create the most impact. It is the job of each nonprofit to be good stewards of these contributions.

Is your development office doing this? You need to know and here’s why:

  • Corporations have long used data mining techniques to discover untapped potential in their data.

  • The private sector has long recognized that the key to targeting the most profitable markets is kept right in their own databases.

Until recently however, nonprofits behaved as though the field of “business” intelligence was for businesses only. Now, nonprofits of all sizes are realizing that not only do they have valuable data, but they share many of the same challenges that for-profit companies encounter.

If the best practices of the private sector’s existing analytics can be adopted by nonprofits (you) and tailored to your unique issues, the potential increase in net donations could help your nonprofit continue its charitable work in good times or bad.

Speaking of economic tumult, charitable giving is one of the first things often cut from personal budgets. This makes it even more critical that you find new prospects for small-to-moderate sized gifts and convert more of your existing prospects to major donors as efficiently as possible–in good economic times or bad.

Virtually every development officer is aware of the information that can be gathered directly from the prospect.,For instance, universities retain data about a student’s major, their involvement in student organizations, and other activities pertaining to their experiences while attending school. Alumni class reunion surveys provide opportunities for the prospects themselves to volunteer information such as their current employer, family members, and primary contact information.

From these basic details, many more facts can be obtained about a prospect just by searching public records. Some information is rarely given by prospects, such as their capacity to give. However, this information can be found by a zip code search with specific real estate values found via tax assessments. Other public records such as marriage and divorce filings, bankruptcy records, military service databases, and professional licenses can all give clues as to a person’s wealth and ability to make a major gift. Likewise, a person’s inclination to give to charities can be figured out by examining their giving history.

And it’s a person’s likelihood of making a donation to a particular organization that provides the crucial link between their ability to make a sizable gift and their interest in charitable giving in general. How well your organization’s mission aligns with your prospects personal interests can often be determined from Who’s Who entries and archived news articles that frequently provide facts such as club memberships, important career advancements, and personal interests.

What does this mean to you? It means that this is the kind of research your staff should be doing and including in your database just as business intelligence is used to target the most interested and profitable customers.

Do this and you’ll be setting up a gold mine of potential down the road. As a leader, it’s what you should be ensuring your organization does for future financial sustainability.

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