Category Archives: Data, Analytics & Insight

Think customer, not data

Quite rightly, when we think about data, the first thing we think about is data protection.  Security. The laws and regulations which govern how we store and secure customer details, compliance with laws, directives and regulation – or the codes of best practice – that we use in storing and securing customer details.

Add a few strong passwords, find an organisational data protection officer, add a dose of corporate responsibility and the right personal approach and you’re safe.  Phew!

But as other more erudite articles on this theme show, it’s not *quite* as easy as all that.

We’d like to add another dimension to the debate.

Data = customer

Data is the word mentioned first in the phrase data protection.

We think it’s because it’s the most important part. But where does it come from?

Data comes from our customers.

Data is about customers.

How we treat data, and our responsibility to it, is a reflection of how we treat our customers.

Data – and data protection – is as much about user experience and customer care as it is technical systems and compliance.

You may call the people in your organisation different things – customers, partners, prospects, stakeholders …. The words don’t matter. The sentiment does.

Surely this is all just semantics? 

It’s much easier to be animated, interested and excited about people than it is about data.   It’s easier to think about data protection if you are applying people to the process – this is about our customer, what’s the right thing to do for them?

And as for doing the right thing by them – here’s our 5 point roadmap to help you keep on top of your data

Silo the data silos

At the risk of sounding patronising, it’s really hard to look after data when it’s all over the place.  Data silos are common in organisations – donations and enquiries in one place, website and social media date elsewhere, perhaps even data about members and their registration data kept somewhere else.  Never mind our personal preferences for spreadsheets a plenty.

Part of your organisations roadmap should include integration of data.  This may not happen overnight but it should be a priority for many reasons.

The very first of these is that you cannot properly manage and use your organisations data – or support your customers – if information about them is in multiple places.   The second of these is that you’re not using a full 360 view of your stakeholders to make decisions if your data is not integrated.  You may be missing key changes or trends.

If it’s not on your list, chances are it won’t happen

Data needs to be looked after.  There are tasks to be done to keep it clean and in tip top condition, useable, current and informative. Let’s be very realistic, unless you’re some kind of Super-Manager, it’s very hard to keep on top of absolutely everything, and inevitably some of the tasks which are not seen as urgent or vital to move forwards, will move down the priority list.

I’d urge you to make weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks relating to your data a priority.  A very simple reason is that the time it takes to do the task will become greater the longer you leave it.

If someone has been making a basic data entry error for 6 months, that’s a lot more knitting to unpick than a month’s work.

Pragmatically, for many of us while we know data is important, data tasks could be some of the little jobs that make our heart sink (all jobs have them) and don’t fill us with excitement.  All the more reason to deal with it when it’s small!  Make sure your data tasks are on your priority list.

Be on hand to help, monitor and manage

There are those of us that get excited about databases and systems.  Then there are the rest of the organisation who kind of know there’s a system, might have to interact with it but are not quite sure of what it is or why.

Sharing insight across the organisation helps everyone understand the relevance and importance of what’s in the system and how it can help you with your shared vision.

It also highlights you to the organisation as the person who carries the mantle for it and people can approach you for guidance more easily.

A champion is also useful for new starters  helping them get started and look after data in the right way, right from the beginning.

Stay enthused

The landscape we work in changes all the time – new tech, new programmes, new opportunities.  Not all of these will be relevant to you, but it’s important to keep an eye on the trends, innovations and updates that take place.

Find a blog you trust (this one is a great start!), and just scan it every week or so.

Keep in touch with your implementation partner or vendor – some may offer ongoing training or updates for clients.

Find ways to keep up with the new, fresh and exciting so you maintain your enthusiasm data, your systems and approaches and it isn’t something else ‘to do’ but is something else to grow and develop.

Health checks

Just as you will occasionally seek medical advice if there’s something wrong, you can do the same with your CRM.  If you have an issue, call the partner who helped you install it – you may have sensibly bought some after sales support from them, or they may be able to offer this to you on an ad hoc basis.  Healthcare is about prevention as well as cure.

An investment in the health of your system will help keep it working smoothly – and if you don’t have the time or expertise to manage it in house, you will need to recognise and allocate an ongoing sum to seek the help you need.

You’ve invested a lot of time and money in the system; don’t forget to protect your asset.

Find out more

Purple Vision offers health-checks for Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce as well as support with data, analytics and CRM.  Contact us to find out more.




The first rule of data club …

Last week on Monday afternoon I was very happy.

I was happy because I was in a room with 80 people who wanted to learn more about how to maximise their fundraising return using data. I was happy because I was leading a session at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention with a fellow data lover, Steve Thomas.

And I was happy because I knew we had great gifts to give. Not just nuggets of powerful information, but badges too, and ‘I *heart* data’ badges at that! At the end of the session, Steve and I had successfully initiated 80 new folks into Data Club, the first rule of which is you have to talk about Data Club. We had 80 new believers, each with their own badge. We had to stop some folks taking more than one.

The day got even better when the Institute of Fundraising National Awards that evening included an award for ‘Best Use of Insight’ for the first time and, in doing so, brought data into the main Awards arena.

Hats off to the IoF Insight SIG for gaining recognition for data analysis and implementation. And, after just two years of their own awards, for placing an insight award front and centre of fundraising. Well done too, of course, to CRUK who used data insight to turn an expected 5,000 ‘Dryatheletes’ into 35,000, and raising £4m in its first year of the campaign. Impressive.

So, what’s my obsession with data? Well, of our ‘Top Ten Tips’, a key starting point is that we’re all data. Yes – you are, I am, and our supporters are. So don’t think data as such, think people. And then you have more respect and take more care.

One tip is to keep things ‘clean and respectful’. What’s that all about? Well, unless you cleanse your data on a regular basis and employ good data protection practices by respecting when people do and don’t want contacting, then you’re wasting money and, likely, annoying people. Not good for the ROI. If you know what people want and who they are, and are recording how they behave, then you can start to segment. And segmentation can be a beautiful thing for growing relationships, which is what it’s all about (as any good fundraiser will tell you!). We moved away from transactional relationships a good while back and now it’s all about the journey. We had lots more top tips and, if you want to see the slides, follow the link or flip through them below.

If you want to know more about our love of data and what it can do to maximise your fundraising, come for a coffee, croissant, and a chat at the Purple Vision Data Breakfast on July 30th. It’s all about big data – what does it mean, what are the key challenges and how to start addressing them.

First rule of Data Club? Talk about Data Club.

Second rule? Wear your badge with pride.

Like these good folks from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – out and proud about their love of data and demanding more badges! We’ll have more up for grabs at the Data Breakfast, so sign up now to secure your place.


See you there.



Data in Direct Marketing: Past, Present, Future

This week we’ve been at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, the biggest event for fundraisers in Europe. It’s a tremendous event – 2,000 people attend – and the content is fabulous.

Our own Dawn Varley presented on a subject close to her heart – data! Alongside Simon Freeman, Supporter Analysis Manager at Save the Children, and Jonathan Moxham, Database Marketing and Analysis Manager at the British Red Cross, Dawn delivered a session entitled ‘Data in Direct Marketing: Past, Present and Future’.

Dawn’s role was to describe the ‘Future’ of data in direct marketing – here are her predictions, heavily laced with a huge dose of common sense!

What does the future hold?

There’s a lot going on in the world of data and data systems at the moment. Some folks think ‘the cloud’ is the answer (sometimes without really knowing the question) and others think gobbling up more and more data (BIG data!) will give insights we didn’t even know we needed! Amongst all this we have the shifting sands of technology suppliers and the systems they offer. Is your database really going to serve your charity well for the next 10 years or will something more shiny revolutionise your fundraising? All these questions and no real answers. And I don’t have answers either – but here’s what I think …

‘The Cloud’ – means many things to many people, and is one of those buzz words banded about without much thought as to what is really mean by it. It can mean a myriad of different things – it’s the context in which it is used that defines it.  There’s no doubt that ‘The Cloud’ offers us great options to do things in different ways, from removing IT infrastructure to storing our data in the ether rather than in a ‘traditional’ model sat in the office such as thankQ, Care, Raiser’s Edge etc. But for the subject at hand, data in DM, these things matter not.

BIG data is cool, it’s out there, and it can add layers of insight that we never thought possible. But for charity DM right now, it’s not the immediate future – small is where it’s at. ‘Small’ data is YOUR data – the stuff sat in your database about your supporters, and it’s more important to get that in good shape (clean, robust and meaningful), have it understood (a data dictionary exists) and be worked well (you have a data strategy which matches your fundraising strategy), than to start getting fanciful about the BIG stuff. For charities, the land may lie very differently in 20 years’ time but, for the short term, make sure your house is in order.

Before considering my predictions, we need to be sure not to forget the past. ‘Study the past, if you would divine the future’ said Confucius – and I agree. The future needs to be built on the foundations laid in the  past – so the basic, solid and critical stuff we know about DM remains the core. We need to apply a robust RFV model to ensure we’re looking at the most responsive (aka profitable) sections of our supporter bases – and adding more segmentation and analysis will help target what should be the cream of the crop (the past and present as dealt with by my co-presenters Simon and Jonathan). But, looking forward, the key question is what do we need to add to that to maximise return for charities?

Prediction 1 – the future is indeed mobile

There were more than 100 sessions at the IOF’s National Convention this week, and it seems that most have the same prediction– that mobile devices are the future of fundraising. I’d agree, but with an important caveat. Yes, these are now essential devices – always with you, always on, and always demanding of your attention (Google ‘continuous partial attention’ – fascinating stuff) – but we can only start to make this a meaningful channel for fundraising if we have the data to join up the dots.

If I donate to your charity by SMS, and am also a regular donor by DD, do you know I am one and the same? How? You will only know this if you have my mobile number on your database, so you can match my SMS donation number to the mobile number you have on my record (most likely created when I took out my DD). The vast majority of charities won’t have that, and don’t have plans to capture that information at the point of sign-up. Start now!

Crucially, don’t lose sight of your best supporters. If Dorothy Donor is your number one supporter, you are less likely to engage her via this channel. Don’t get too distracted by the shiny, exciting digital stuff when what you need is a good banker postal pack and a robust legacy programme. Digital won’t meet all your targets whereas the offline tried and tested techniques will be the mainstays of income generation for many years to come.

Prediction 2 – it’s social

Communications, therefore marketing, therefore fundraising, has moved from broadcast to interactive, especially for online activity. We have to listen, interact and respond if we are to maximise fundraising. Some would say it’s relationship fundraising – who was it that said that?! But it’s not just about organisation-to-supporter relationships. A new report out this week states that 51% of the charity audience is online; that 30% of donations come through online methods, and that (brace yourself) 90% of online donations are made through online giving sites.

What that means is that it’s highly likely not to be you, the fundraising expert, who is asking for this money. It’s all those supporters out there who are throwing themselves out of planes, running marathons, or just asking for donations (instead of presents) for special occasions.

And whilst these people are just fantastic (we love them) they are not professional fundraisers – so we need to transfer some skills to help them maximise their ROI (and tell them what that is)!

We need to support our armies of fundraising supporters, and provide them with the tools and skills to make the most of their energy and commitment. They need to know the Fundraising 101’s:

  • People fundraise from people
  • Stories are critical
  • Know your case for support and how to express it
  • Make the ask, repeatedly where necessary

Prediction 3 – Data and tech and teams

In the future, the most successful fundraising organisations will have realised the importance of data and the technology that captures, stores, analyses and works it. Plus, they will have their house in order.

  • Get your data in order – capture the right data, at the right time, in the right way. And use it intelligently. Information is everything (think of Amazon or Tesco in the commercial world).
  • Get your technology in order – fit for purpose, future proofed systems which, crucially, can talk to each other easily and that people like to use (Google, Facebook, Just Giving).
  • Get your teams in order – silo working helps no-one – invest in the ways you work inside your organisation and get your people talking.

Ideally, when doing all the above, do it by stealth. It breaks my heart to admit this, but people generally don’t get excited by data, or technology, so present it in fundraising terms – it’s about raising more money, more easily, and more efficiently. Honest.

Prediction 4 – DM basics remain true

As much as things change, they stay the same. Ensure you keep your DM basics close to hand – the principles remain the same across all channels:

  • Right message, right time, right person (who remains Dorothy Donor in most cases – never forget you are not your donor, and the future is not now)
  • Your case for support is everything: Stories, told by people
  • Collect the data, analyse the results, act on the knowledge, test where you can. Digital routes make testing easier & quicker

And as a final reminder to not get distracted by the shiny, exciting digital stuff too much, I’ll close by saying:

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein