Fundraisers: Let’s take the guesswork out

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Fundraisers: Let’s take the guesswork out

At the IOF recently I overheard a few senior fundraisers stating how their intuition was core to making large scale future fundraising investments.

And this of course is nothing new. One of the benefits of being an experienced fundraiser is having a well-honed gut instinct for what works well and what doesn’t.

 But this got me thinking.

There’s no doubt that intuitive bets have paid dividends for many charities in the past. And in a stable and established charity sector, following your instinct is a sure-fire way to success based on a well-worn feel for what worked in the past.

Today, however, relying on hunches alone has become increasingly risky. 

When intuition meets increasing complexity

Fundraising is fast becoming convoluted and complex. The variety of ways audiences support and engage is evolving and, as a result, decision-making based based mostly on intuition is less assured and less likely to succeed. 

As this trend continues, many senior fundraisers are in a tricky position, where even with years of experience and knowledge on their side, acting on gut instinct can be a bit of a gamble.

It makes a lot of sense then to combine that hard-won intuition with a more evidence-based approach, leveraging insight derived from data. 

So why aren’t fundraisers already doing this across the board?

The journey begins with data 

Most charities have a wealth of data but not always at their fingertips. Putting this data to practical use for decision-making is often the biggest obstacle.  Maybe it takes months to compile a post-campaign-analysis simply because that’s always the way it’s been done. Perhaps you are able to only look at channels in isolation, or your reports don’t roll up to give a high-level view of performance against priorities.

Or maybe it’s the fact the mosaic of performance measures available is blinding you to what’s working, what isn’t, where you should invest and where you might want to optimise. 

But data alone isn’t the answer

Whatever the reasons, it takes a concerted effort to embed usable views of performance derived from data.

In our experience this is best delivered via browser-based dashboards – highly accessible and easy to consume reports in a graphical format – which, when delivered collaboratively, can fast become an invaluable source of actionable insight across your organisation. 

Example of a visual dashboard

These well-designed visual dashboards work on a number of levels, helping you gain a clear picture of key aspects of performance, so you can unpack activities and optimise spend.

For example, charities can use them to:

  • Track the KPIs and insight on what’s business critical
  • Make business decisions supported by robust, accurate insight
  • Visualise moments of truth, customer journeys and future contact strategies 
  • Instill governance and controls - all from a single source of truth
  • Deliver automated and real-time insight directly to every user’s device.

More than meets the eye

It’s also important to remember that effective visualisations, when done right, are about more than the tool itself. Poorly designed and over-engineered dashboards can actually cause more confusion than illumination.

Effective dashboards, delivered collaboratively, help create a common language for fundraisers based on your most important objectives.

Properly scoping this will help narrow your focus to what will speak to and support the priority functions in your organisation, rather than over-engineering your dashboard with too many sanity and vanity metrics and filters.

Just as important is how you use the dashboard to inform your decisions on an ongoing basis. Regular check-ins and cross-discipline analysis sessions are a must.

Summary: If you’re not effectively measuring, you’re mostly guessing

In an evolving charity sector, it’s crucial that intuition is not your sole decision-making source but is well supported with data and insight. This begins with metrics and KPIs, delivered via easy to consume dashboards. 

Effective dashboards are much more than numbers and dials. They are a means to ensure shared comprehension of performance and engagement. And they help you make more informed decisions on future activity to repeat, reshape or discontinue.

Intuition should play a key role in driving your strategic direction. But with metrics and insight at your fingertips, it’s time to lose the gut and take the guesswork out. 

Want to make more confident decisions and turn insight into action?

We help fundraisers build a powerful shared focus around the metrics that matter.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

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