Wisdom Wednesdays: Part 2 – When an Analyst Calls Back

by Heather McGinness, CFRE

Read Part 1: “When an Analyst Calls”

We left off last week with the shocking revelation that the mysterious calls asking, “Have you checked the data?,” were coming from inside the office.  Who would do such a thing, and why?  Believe it or not, there are plenty of people in your organization with motive to get you into data analysis.  Let’s take a look at some of the departments that may be harboring suspects:

when a stranger calls 2Finance & Accounting – Those seemingly mild-mannered folks who spend entire days looking at numbers would desperately love for you to spend some time doing the same!  Your activities generate expenses that impact the budget’s bottom line.  Are you sending mailings to segmented groups using tailored messages, rather than sending the same blanket mailing to everyone in your database?  Do you plan your travel with the intent to engage one-on-one with constituents with high capacity ratings and visit regions where there is a critical mass of donors? If you’re not strategically choosing actions that will produce a maximum return on investment, you’re not being a good steward of resources.   What about budget forecasting and planning?  Are you monitoring revenue streams and identifying trends that will help you accurately predict your numbers, which in turn help overall organizational planning?  Or are you applying a flat percentage to last year’s numbers and calling it a day?  Depending on how you answer these questions, you might not want to pass by the accounting office alone.

Programs – You may not see them on a daily basis, but your dedicated colleagues who are out in the field putting your organization’s mission into action are affected by all you do.  They want to be able to plan their activities and have an idea of resources available to them.  They want to know who their ardent supporters are and have a cadre of donors to go to for special above and beyond initiatives or emergencies.  All those things require you having that information!  Do you know which constituents respond the strongest to specific programming and are you engaging them accordingly?  Do you know which donors have a track record of giving to new projects or pilot programs?  The programs would like you to know!

Leadership – Beyond evaluating your performance and being responsible for the overall health of your organization, the leadership team (the President/CEO or Executive Director, along with the Board of Trustees) can have significant impact and influence on giving to the organization.  Have you assigned them portfolios?  If so, are those assignments based on long-range capacity?  Are you helping your leaders leverage key peer relationships to acquire new major donors or corporate connections?  Do you know the peer and corporate connections to which they have access?  If you’re answering no to these questions, you’re not making the best use of your leaders’ time … and it’s never a good idea to waste the boss’s time or, even worse, to not involve them at all.

Development – Even your team could be turning on you!  You expect high quality performance from them and give them goals, but are you equipping them with the right tools to be successful?  Do they have the right mix of individuals in their portfolios, based on their role in your team, or are assignments made arbitrarily?  Do they have access to wealth screening results and, if so, have they been trained to interpret that information?  Are their activities prioritized, and on what information is that prioritization based?  These are all important questions, and analytics can help you answer all of them.  If you’re ignoring them, you may have a mutiny on your hands!

Effective use of data can have a profound impact on the success of your organization, your team and your own efforts.  It’s no wonder that if you’re not routinely doing some analytic work, everyone could be a suspect for making those terrorizing phone calls.  Well, almost everyone.   There’s one group of people who are begging for you to look at the numbers, who have a vested interest in wanting you to make best use of time and resources.  I’m talking about your donors.  They won’t call and ask you to check the data, though.  They’ll simply communicate through their giving — or lack thereof.  Now THAT’S scary!

So, it’s time to ask…

Have you checked the data?

Heather R. McGinness, CNM, CFRE left the last haunted house she visited in tears, and much prefers certain friendly monsters who share her love for numbers and penchant for cookies.  She is a Philanthropic Advisor (& occasional Data Whisperer) for Lutheran World Relief.


One thought on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Part 2 – When an Analyst Calls Back

  1. Pingback: Wisdom Wednesdays: How Does Your Data Match Up? | ALDE

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