Growing up my Mom used to always tell me that being prepared is the best way to ensure success in whatever you do. Wonderful advice from a wonderful mother! It is also important advice, and this can’t be emphasized more when it comes to the readiness factor when embarking on an analytics project, whether looking to do a wealth screening or predictive modeling.
When working with our clients, I find those who have taken the time to make sure their data is as consistent, updated, and accurate as possible, the better results they will have. This in turn helps them reach their objectives. The other part in preparing for a project is making sure you have the bandwidth to implement an analytics project. Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure the timing is right and that you have the right staff members in place:
What are the goals of our project? My advice is to have very clear and concise reasons for the project. Here are some examples:
- Identify prospects for an upcoming capital campaign
- Fill in the pipeline to complete a campaign
- Develop or grow the major gifts program
- Build a mid-level donor pool
- Increase the annual fund
- Provide more in-depth research on identified prospects
Is development leadership clearly communicating the message to the staff on making the implementation of the project a priority to ensure usage and eventual success? Buy-in and enthusiasm from the entire team will increase the likelihood that the results will be utilized. Educating staff that modeling and screening are simply strategic tools that help bring focus to daily work process and overall success in our fundraising efforts.
- Do we have development leadership in place or are we in transition? If you are in transition, and this happens more than you might suspect, then you have to think about what vision and priorities a new development leader might have for your group. Depending upon the overall objectives for the modeling or screening project, it might be wise to make sure that some level of development leadership is in place.
- Have we allotted the time and resources necessary to ensure utilization of the results? Wow – This is a big obstacle in my experience. Every once in a while I will hear a client say, “Our plans are to tackle the data results in another month…, after we do this, that, and the other thing.” My unfettered opinion is that it is critical for the organization to have the time, focus, and people on board so that the team can immediately start planning and working on the next steps laid out during the onsite (or online) presentation of the results by your consultant or trainer.
Once you have an implementation plan in place, the first step is making sure that the important data elements returned from the project get uploaded to your CRM system. So again my advice is to have the right staff person in place to ensure the data import happens sooner rather than later.
Just like embarking on the task of painting the interior of your house, preparation before you begin (cleaning the walls, taping the edges, and laying down drop cloths) leads to success during and after the project is completed. Who has the time or energy to touch up the walls or clean paint splatter off the carpet later on?