Keela’s Little “Big Bang”: Through the eyes of our inhouse physicist

Annabelle Chuinard • Jan 22, 2020

Believe me, it is both a privilege and a burden to see the world through the eyes of a physicist. My story starts with a wicked-fairy kind of prophecy where the main protagonist – me – grows up a stone’s throw away from the world’s biggest particle accelerator in Switzerland. Several years later I moved to Canada to become a doctor. Not the kind of doctor who saves lives, rather the one spending hours on a computer trying to understand how our universe was born. Every prophecy has its lot of dust-biting. For about six years, I was part of the largest scientific collaboration in the world. We worked days and nights building models to describe how matter behaves under conditions similar to that of the Big Bang. 

So you may be asking… how does that lead to Keela? 

Flirting with the unknown has always been thrilling to me, though by graduation I kept asking myself: “Aren’t there more important issues to work on?” Wouldn’t I rather throw myself into something that helps humanity face real challenges?”

I joined Keela at the beginning of last year and I do not regret the jump. Besides collaborating with an exceptionally diverse and passionate team, I came to realize how we, as physicists, can make the most of our analytic intuition to help understand and encourage generosity.

Did you know the act of giving is actually a pretty complex process? Donors are motivated not only by the impact of their gift, but also by the feeling that results from giving. For decades, fundraisers have typically built their strategies around general observations and rules of thumb. However, developments in computing technology have enabled organizations to process more information faster and at lower costs. This has led to the development of tools that can integrate human cognition and behaviour into the fundraising equation. 

Our data science and machine learning development team has been focusing on bringing these solutions to our customers. We recently launched Keela 2.0, and along with a new look and feel, it comes with an innovative suite of tools to help organizations gain a deeper understanding of their donor pool. We’ve dubbed this technology Keela Intelligence.

Keela Intelligence is likely the most exciting new functionality that we’ve ever built. It fully integrates to our existing CRM ecosystem while bringing in data-driven tools to help our customers identify and adopt best practices. 

While our current CRM software helps to bring all the data together so it’s easy to view and understand, Keela’s new Intelligence tools process the data and presents digested information in an accessible and intuitive way.

What does that mean for you and your nonprofit? Simply that technology can finally help you fundraise more effectively. 

We came up with a diagnostic dashboard for organizations to assess and track their success in fundraising. New tools like Donor Readiness, Smart Ask and badges such as Major Gift Donor or Lapsed Recurring Donor will help identify who is likely to donate, how much they can afford to give, and when are they likely to give. All of these predictors are based on behavior patterns. 

As data scientists, it’s our job to create these tools in a way that’s going to be impactful. The value, purpose, and functionality of Keela Intelligence can be broken down into three categories.

1. Help nonprofits better understand their contacts

We can now help our customers understand the quality of their donor pool with a new feature called Donor Score. This allows to rank donors by their generosity, ultimately helping our customers to maximize their donation revenues. 

We segment donors based on their scores, categorizing them as either: Champions, Promising Donors or Needs More Love. Keela 2.0 users can create reports based on these categories and specifically target each donor type when they launch a campaign.

These new insights will allow organizations to target which donors have the potential to become highly valuable to their organization, and our Intelligence tools will suggest ways to increase donation amounts.

2. Help nonprofits evaluate and position themselves

We have released a suite of organization and cause area insights, giving our customers added visibility into the state of their organization as well as other, similar organizations. For each delivered insight, customers should be able to position themselves with respect to other organizations inside and outside their own impact area. This way, we are hoping to empower and encourage customers to set and track goals.

For instance, with our Fundraising Reporting, we now provide KPIs like donor retention and acquisition rates. Besides having visual indicators to see how they did in retaining donors, organizations will be able to compare these KPIs against other organizations in similar cause areas with our new benchmarking tools.

3. Assist nonprofits in how they work 

I believe that providing custom behavioral information is key for our sector to free itself from outdated and ineffective methods. Which is why our tools are all designed to create more effective workflows and suggest industry best practices to empower our customers to do more good.

One of the most powerful fundraising tools released with Keela 2.0 is our Smart Ask feature.
There is no common ground when it comes to defining which amount existing and prospective donors should be asked for, so we use what we know about your donors giving habits to recommend the best ask.

Our Smart Ask feature automatically provides a recommended amount and some suggestions of donation levels to be used in donation forms. Coming up with the right amount for a specific person increases the likelihood for this person to give and reduces the chance to underestimate their ability to give. Providing several donations options within a range was also proven to increase the likelihood to give, especially regarding new donors. 

Designing all these tools has been very exciting, not only because working with data is actually very fun (physicist talking!), but also because I know that what we build can have a tremendous impact. 

This little big-bang will certainly improve the quality of our customers’ fundraising, and it makes me even more happy to know it will help them save time and focus on what really matters. I am looking forward to exploring other avenues, too. 

For instance, we believe we can provide similar insights into volunteering. I am very proud to be part of this change and I am pretty sure the Universe will forgive me for breaking the prophecy. It was for a good cause after all.

Are you as excited as I am about Keela 2.0’s new features? To learn more, we encourage you to book a Demo. You’ll see just how well data scientists and nonprofits can work together.

About the author:

Dr. Annabelle Chuinard is a Data Scientist at Keela. 

Anabel thinks about saving the world all day. She loves growing ideas to solve complex problems. She pretends to be coming from a parallel universe which would explain a lot of things… She likes creating tools, dreaming about the future of non-profits and posting off-beat jokes on Slack.