Data for Sale: Collecting and Using Data for your Development Efforts | npENGAGE

Data for Sale: Collecting and Using Data for your Development Efforts

By on Sep 22, 2011


In a March 2011 cover article, Time Magazine explored the collection and sale of personal data in the United States.  My colleague, Lawrence Henze and I saw an immediate opportunity to build on this information and to explain many of the data sources available to nonprofit institutions for their development programs.  We were honored when the 2011 National Conference on Philanthropic Planning asked us to discuss our topic at their upcoming meeting in San Antonio.   If you’re going to the conference, you may want to come to our presentation on Wednesday, October 5th.

During our session, you’ll learn the role and purpose of data-mining companies.  Along with our suggestions, you can determine what information and data points are most useful in fundraising.  Since this conference is geared to the gift-planning profession, our discussion will be as well.  But even if planned giving isn’t your main focus, the information is transferable to many development programs.

We’ll take an in-depth look at the sources and details of data available to non-profit organizations and vendors in the U.S. and Canada and how it can help you understand your planned giving program with an eye on refinement, assessment, reporting and growth.  Profiles and models can be applied to identify and target prospects for specific planned gifts by vehicle type.  Data can educate and inform decision-makers within your organizational leadership about the importance planned gifts make to the bottom line.  Additionally, it can support the need for dedicated and increased human and financial resources to conduct donor activities and grow this essential long-term revenue stream.  But before you begin to collect data, you’ll need to understand its origin, purpose, confidence and application options.

Our presentation begins to answer the following questions, and builds a foundational knowledge for collecting and using data development purposes.

  • Who and what are data mining and analytical companies?
  • What terms are useful to understand?
  • Is data mining new?
  • How is data collected and distributed?
  • What data is useful for planned giving programs?
  • How can that data be collected?
  • What does the data allow planned giving professionals to do that they cannot do without it?
  • What are the profiles of U.S. and Canadian planned giving donors? Why are they different?
  • How does data provide critical information to organizational leaders, staff and donors?
  • How can I use data to raise more planned gifts?

If you’re not attending the San Antonio conference, you’ve got one other calendared opportunity to join us for this discussion.   As a “precore” (I may have made up that word just now), rather than an encore, we’ll also be presenting the same discussion at Blackbaud’s 2011 Conference for Nonprofit the previous day.  If you’ll be at the Gaylord National Hotel on October 4th, check the schedule and join us!  We’d love to discuss data with you – what’s better than that?!

Katherine Swank is a senior consultant for Target Analytics. You  may reach her at


Katherine Swank, JD, senior consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company, helps nonprofits apply statistical analytics and donor research to their fundraising efforts with an emphasis on planned gifts. She has raised nearly $250 million for mission funding during her nonprofit development career. Katherine is a retired affiliate faculty member of Regis University’s master of Global Nonprofit Management degree program, where she taught courses on wealth and philanthropy.  Along with writing for publications like Advancing Philanthropy and Philanthropy Journal, she is also a frequent presenter for industry conferences such as NACGP, AFP, APRA, and bbcon. Having grown up in a tourist destination in Colorado, Katherine has become an avid world traveler and is exploring her way through the 1,000 places to see before you die, albeit slowly.  Connect with her on Twitter @KatherineSwank.

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