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DATA RE-SET: What Does Your 2019 Tell You About The Future?

DATA RE-SET: What Does Your 2019 Tell You About The Future?

Your 2019 campaigns are in the books. Did you meet your goals? If so, congratulations! If not, don’t fret, but don’t sit idle, either. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take a deep dive into the previous year’s efforts and gain insight on what needs changing to deliver better results. Several years ago, the New York Society of Association Executives wrote an article on the basics of benchmarking. What was true then is still true today: a simple but diligent approach to benchmarking goes a long way in maximizing your fundraising program. Let’s take a look at what NYSAE recommends, and how you can tackle it.

 

Step 1: Set Goals.
It sounds simple, but don’t be fooled. Successful benchmarking starts with definable goals that are neither too general nor too specific. Every fundraising effort wants to increase donation totals year over year—so that is too generic. Hitting a certain numeric goal may be too specific. The best goals target opportunities while feeding into the obvious target of improving results. For example, increasing the average donation from current donors could help generate more revenue without expanding the giving pool. Conversely, getting more of a certain type of donor—first-time donors, younger donors, etc.—may help broaden the donor pool in a way that helps sustain future drives. NYSAE suggests starting out with three specific goals, but the actual number is up to you. We suggest you pick at least one, but no so many that tracking and analyzing it becomes unmanageable. If you’re already setting goals, then you’re on your way—simply make sure they are measurable, they align with your overall organizational targets, and work with the data you have or can collect.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Data
Again, sounds simple right? But if you identify a goal that requires data you don’t have, you need to either change the goal or collect the data. Say you want more donors under age 35. Do you have a way of identifying donor age? If so, you can do some digging and determine recent historical trends. If not, could you collect the data without creating too much friction among donors or potential donors, who may be reluctant to hand over personal information? Don’t be afraid to set goals that require new data, either. It could be something simple, such as the timing of donations following certain mail pieces. (Maybe, for instance, you’ll find that donations generated by a third reminder is not worth the expense.) It may be ambitious, such as trying to put your existing donors into income brackets in an effort to identify those most likely to increase their giving. If the goal is important enough, it is worth exploring whether you can link donor patterns to the applicable data. Bigger picture, understanding the data you have can help shape the entire benchmarking process. You may discover that you don’t have the data you need, or you may have a treasure trove of information waiting to be parsed. (We bet it’s the latter—but we’ll get to that soon enough.)

Step 3: Analyze Your Data
Once you have your targets and some historical data, it’s time to do some benchmarking. Where were you five years ago? Two years ago? This can help you set realistic expectations on where to go next. Another key factor: understand the bigger picture. If you set a goal to increase your average donation by 10%, but the average in your sector, or bigger-picture national average, is closer to 5%, ask yourself if the goal is realistic. Once you’ve locked down your organizational goals and validated bigger-picture trends, it’s time for a quick review. Does your list of goals still make sense? Did the da-ta-dive uncover anything that merits consideration the next time you start your goal-setting? Revisit your goals every quarter or so and don’t be afraid to make any adjustments in your goals or your tactics. Let the data help guide you!

Looking For A Jump Start?… Benchmarking and setting goals are beneficial activities that should be part of every fundraising organization’s DNA. But there’s no need to wait for an entire donation cycle to get actionable data. One of the areas we’ve been helping clients with is using their existing data to glean trends and actionable insight—a benchmarking jump-start if you will. We call the new service Do-norTrends, and it’s making a difference for our clients. In one case, we launched a lapsed-donor campaign after running its data through the Donor-Trends software. We were able to determine the donors that were most likely to return and targeted them in a dedicated campaign. The result: a boost in reinstatement numbers and a growing bottom line. In another case, we targeted likely new donors based on past activity. Using that information, we brokered and tested three new lists, segmenting each letter slightly to speak to that specific audience. The client acquired more from that one campaign than it has over multiple campaigns in prior years. Each example started with existing data that the client was collecting on its donors. The DonorTrends software analyzed it and pointed out unique trends that each organization could use to develop action plans. The results speak for themselves.

Your Data—Your Future No two organizations are the same, and neither are their donor profiles. Understanding how your donors are performing is the key to targeting your campaign efforts and generating results—from boosting overall donations to reducing your per-do-nation mailing and marketing costs. It all starts with your data.

Ready to gain new, actionable insight from your data?
Contact Sherene Rapoport • Ph: 540.428.7000 x3032 • E: sherene@grassrootcommunication.com

ARTICLES CITED: https://www.nysaenet.org/nysaenet/resources1/inviewnewsletter/2013/april2013/inview512_article5

Membership Data Analytics | Learn What’s Working, And How It Can Help You

Not long ago, using data to super- charge your marketing efforts was seen as the next big thing.
Today, most association marketing professionals are using data to help shape and judge marketing
efforts. That leads us to the next big question: HOW are you using data?

Let’s start with the basics: your member data contains a vast array of insights that can tell you a lot about your operation. You will of course learn a lot about current members. But you should be able to glean a lot about past and potential future members, too. All of this can help you prioritize your marketing programs and create effective campaigns.

Breaking down how current members interact with your organization can help uncover useful trends. As they progress in their careers, are they consuming more of your educational content? If so, then this could point to outreach opportunities to members in similar places in their careers that have not been exposed to what you have to offer. By contrast, if you notice a decline in engagement, perhaps this is a sign that more needs to be done to keep these members connected.

These insights can help you add members, too. By developing a demographic and psychographic profile of an ideal member— one that is exhibiting maximum engagement with the association— you can target prospective new members. If you know when along the member journey your members are disengaging, you can adjust your new-member marketing away from similar prospects while you make appropriate adjustments.

Adding and keeping members is just one part of keeping an association thriving. Understating the value that those members generate is also key. A deep data dive can show you, on a member-by-member basis, the events they attend, supplemental services they pay for, and anything else they purchase that helps drive top-line revenue.
Understanding these trends will help you identify low-hanging fruit, such as up-selling and cross- selling opportunities, that can be targeted immediately. Gaining insight on how your programs  are performing also has the added benefit of providing insight on what’s working and what’s not from a programmatic standpoint, giving you evidence that helps determine where best to invest resources to gain the most return from members.

Once you have a solid handle on member and prospective-member data, a logical extension is monitoring how your audiences interact with your content. Tracking direct actions, such as clicking on a link to sign up for a conference, is a no-brainer. But the analysis should go deeper, evaluating trends such as whether members are reading your marketing emails, or if prospects are responding to social media posts. Understanding how audiences are interacting with your content and marketing outreach, and how that interaction differs within audiences, will help you tailor marketing and communications efforts. For more on using content to engage with members, see our January 2019 issue of Member Centric.

Sold on the value of using data to drive your marketing outreach? Good! The first step is to understand where things stand right now—and if you have data, you can have that insight. Many of our clients are using a new service we’ve rolled out: MemberTrends.

Simply put, we take your data and run it through predictive models that generate insight on your member and prospective members’ activities. The results include basic metrics such as renewal rates and lifetime values, as well as more nuanced insights such as up-selling opportunities.

All of the information is delivered in a confidential report that provides high-level breakdowns, detailed analysis and a customized action plan that you can begin immediately.

Looking to get more insight from your data?
We can help!

Contact us at sherene@grassrootcommunication.com and let’s get started.

Membership Data Analytics