How Do I Make Decisions With Donor Data?

Philip Manzano • Feb 14, 2018

Making data driven decisions is something that people in the nonprofit sector have been talking about for years. But how do you actually go about doing it? The post How do I make decisions with donor data? appeared first on Keela.

Making data driven decisions is something that people in the nonprofit sector have been talking about for years. It’s an important step to take when you actually want to build stronger relationships with donors. But how do you actually go about doing it?

The most practical first step to making decisions driven by data is to answer this question:

if your data could talk — what story would it tell?

It’s an interesting thought-exercise that not enough organizations do. But when you answer this question, you inevitably determine the types of decisions you are looking to influence with the use of data. For example, if your data is telling you that donors from a certain geographic region historically give more to your charity, there are two stories that are glaringly obvious:

1.  This is an area that we need to focus more of our resources on

2.  The areas outside of this region are underperforming – what are we doing or not doing that has caused this?

To act on either of these stories, you need to make a strategic decision with your team. And this is where a lot of people get stuck.  How do I know when data is strong enough to act on?

There are two factors to consider when making a decision based on data:

  • Does the risk out weigh the benefit?
  • Does the data correlate to your hypothesis?

Let’s take a look at each of these factors.

Risk

Whenever you make a decision, there is inherent risk. Things could fall apart, projects could fail, your hypothesis about the stories your data is telling could be way off. All of these things could cost time and money — both of which nonprofits do not have a lot of. But, every situation is different. You have to look at every decision with a critical lens and evaluate the risk. If you feel there is more upside than risk, then you’re in a good spot.

Data correlation

When you look at your data, the stories we interpret are essentially guesses. It’s important to take a critical look at your data and see where those numbers actually affirm your guess and align with your thinking. There will be instances where you are way off, and what you thought about a certain situation, turns out to be completely wrong when looking at the data. But the more the numbers work in your favour, the more you should think about acting on that data.

Here’s a helpful chart to guide your data-driven decisions:

This is a great way to start your conversations about data driven decisions at your nonprofit. Be critical about your work and ask questions about your data. There are always multiple stories that can be told within your nonprofit CRM.

I’m looking forward to all the new stories you’ll be able to tell!