I remember when I first started to incorporate analytics with prospect research… I was terrified!  I was placing expectations on myself that were not realistic.  Once I released the notion that I needed to be perfect or that I didn’t have five years of experience, then I was able to start absorbing the whole process.  I was also shocked to realize that I had been doing a form of analytics all along.

All you need is data and it is of the upmost importance to start gathering data now.  We all track giving, but taking and analyzing the data can help us become more strategic.  So start thinking of other data points that are important to your institution.  For instance, if you are in higher education it might be wise to track reunion attendance or if you’re a cultural organization, you should be tracking gala attendance.  It is also essential to know who your prospects are in order for you to help segment and define the best strategy

So here are my five suggestions that will help you have a better grasp on this essential component of fundraising.

  1.  READ!! There are many books available on fundraising analytics and one easy way to find them is to use your favorite search engine.  I always recommend using two different search engines to maximize your results.  I like to highlight not only information that really makes sense to me but information that I don’t understand.  I use two different highlighters to help me through this process.
  2. Attend conferences that include analytics.  Many conferences like the APRA International Conference have sessions on analytics.  In fact, the upcoming conference in Baltimore has a symposium on specifically analytics.  Many other associations and vendors have sessions that will help define and further your knowledge around analytics.
  3. Mentors can be a great source of information.  It is quite easy to find industry professionals who may be willing to serve as a mentor and provide guidance.
  4. Knowing your limits is also a key component to the whole equation.  Analytics is not a magic button so determine how much time you have to devote to analytics.  It may be more advantageous for you to contract professionals and have a working knowledge around the process.
  5. This may sound simple but remember: There are no stupid questions in fundraising.  The only not brilliant move would be not to ask that question.  I guarantee you that someone else in the room will have the same question.
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