Google “Fundraising Buzzwords” or “Nonprofit Buzzwords” and you’ll get a whole list of the phrases we like to kick around the industry. Fortunately, “Donor-Centered” is one that’s stuck around for quite some time.
Data-Driven seems to be losing some of its popularity. “Big Data” is taking on different connotations (really, Big Data refers to databases so large that most computers can’t process them – most of us aren’t really working with true Big Data, no matter how large our database is).
But you can’t be donor centered AND data driven.
At least, that’s the common misconception. We tend to think of these two things as being different parts of the brain – left-brain/right-brain, science/art, emotional/rational.
How many DODs or MGOs do you hear say, “I’m just not a data person!” Or, “I can’t even deal with that – it sounds so boring, I’d rather talk to people!” Or “What’s my password for Raiser’s Edge?”
So, what is data?
This one’s the best. From www.mathisfun.com
What is Data?
Data is a collection of facts, such as numbers, words, measurements, observations or even just descriptions of things.
“Or even just descriptions of things.”
At its very basic level, data is simply another word for “information.”
So, data-driven means “Guided by Information.”
Think of a donor, one you know well. Don’t look at your CRM. What do you know about them? Or think of a group, a segment, a subset, something – what do you know about them?
You just conjured up a whole bunch of information – kid’s names, home address, giving status (Current, Lapsed, LYBUNT, etc.).
Data – information – can also be very unconscious. You’re not thinking about it right now, but when I say Your Birthday, the date immediately pops to mind. Or if I say, “Your Mother’s maiden name,” boom, there it is.
We’re processing data all the time, without even thinking about it.
When we’re truly being donor-centered – stewarding their gift, cultivating them, listening to them – we’re processing a lot of information about them.
Being Donor-Centered means putting the needs of the donor at the forefront of our relationship. In order to do that, we need to know what their needs are – we need to know who they are. And, of course, we can’t do that without information.
Even simple information – data – helps get us there. Spouse name, kids names, their job, their last gift, who they’re connected. That’s all data is and most of us are just carrying that around in our heads all day.
Donor-Centered and Data-Driven are two sides of the same coin. Can’t have one without the other.
Just, please, for the love of all things, get that data into the CRM.