What is Data Intelligence?

What is Data Intelligence?

By on Feb 4, 2022

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Human brain and circuit board, illustration.

The nonprofit world reached a “Tipping Point” in 2020: we believe the future of our industry will look significantly different from its past.  

The sector is moving away from galas and golf tournaments toward a strategic focus on raising more through major gifts. Smaller, distributed teams are increasingly relying on AI to synthesize data and optimize their workflows. And communication with each organization’s constituencies increasingly must be engaging and personalized or it will be ignored.  

For-profit companies have relied on these strategies for years to serve up relevant content and personalized experiences to deepen engagement with their brand, and donors now expect that in their interactions with nonprofits.  

At Blackbaud, we believe this future – the future of the nonprofit sector – will be supported by Data Intelligence. 

What is Data Intelligence? 

Data intelligence is the practice of transforming data into insights and value. Our Intelligence for Good® approach combines licensed and proprietary data assets, world-class industry data science expertise, advanced machine-learning techniques, and robust analytic methodologies – all optimized to drive your mission impact.  

But it’s not just about the insights and value generated – it’s about honoring the data in a way that matches our core values. As the world’s leading cloud software provider powering social good, it is our responsibility to employ data, analytics, and artificial intelligence in a socially beneficial manner. The software, services, and data intelligence capabilities that empower and connect people to drive impact for social good are designed upon a framework of fairness, inclusiveness, reliability, and trust. 

Data intelligence solutions for fundraising can be broken into three categories: 

  1. Data health solutions that enhance and maintain the health of your data, ensuring you are always working with accurate, complete, and up-to-date information. This helps make it possible for you to nurture fruitful, intentional relationships with your constituents. A few examples of data health tools include address updaters and deceased record finders. 
  2. Augmented insights solutions can predict constituent behavior and prescribe actions using data science and machine-learning techniques. The most successful fundraising organizations are using augmented insights to identify the supporters most likely to give, analyze prospect wealth data, and personalize asks to resonate with their donors more deeply. With this information, they can build strong gift officer portfolios, ensure expensive marketing like direct mail is going to the best prospects, and increase response rates with segmented lists and personalized content. Examples of the types of augmented insights available include wealth screenings, predictive modeling, and segmentation. 
  3. Performance analysis solutions help you understand programmatic strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. When it comes to improving fundraising performance, knowledge is power. Understand how your donor programs and fundraising efforts compare to peers in your space and use the insight to expand high-performing programs and address underperforming ones. Examples of performance tools include performance analysis and benchmarking. 

How are Fundraising Organizations Using Data Intelligence? 

  • To build stronger supporter relationships – By better understanding supporter passions and preferences and targeting communications and cultivation strategies accordingly, you can foster a happier, more satisfied donors that will be more likely to continue supporting an organization for the long haul. Learn how Atrium Health Foundation is using data in their decisions.
  • To improve prospect identification – With major giving being a key focus and revenue driver across all forms of nonprofit fundraising, it has become critical that organizations identify potential major givers (and mid-level givers with long-term potential) early in the relationship. See an example from Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area.
  • To Increase Contribution Levels – Predictive analytics can allow nonprofits to assign an appropriate target ask amount for each donor, which keeps from under-asking or leaving money on the table. Gift range predictions can also be used to assess donor potential in terms of real dollars, helping you prioritize cultivation efforts based not just on current giving level but also potential.
  • To Improve Response Rates – Knowing which supporters are most likely to respond to different campaigns allows nonprofits to segment more effectively, mailing only to those who are already philanthropically inclined and most likely to provide a return on investment.
  • Reduce Mailing and Print Costs – Hand in hand with increased response rates mentioned earlier, being able to determine which donors are unlikely to respond to a campaign helps avoid wasting postage, print, and processing dollars on unanswered communications. The combined savings can be thousands of dollars per campaign, if not more. Sisters of Charity found big financial impact
  • Boost Productivity – Direct labor is often the least understood and appreciated aspect of a nonprofit’s budget, but it can be extremely costly. Analytics simplifies the processes that fundraising professionals must apply every day, enabling them to do more with less and invest their time in more strategic ways. See how The Houston Zoo saw a 373% increase in ROI. 

Data Intelligence and Your Organization’s Future 

It’s no longer sufficient to hold data – a best-in-class database is just table stakes. At the end of the day, the joy in your work comes from what you do and the connections you create.  

Data Intelligence helps you create a virtuous cycle.  On one hand, it will help your team be better equipped to do the work – so they can spend more time with the right prospects, engaging them deeply with your mission and extending your organization’s impact on the world.  At the same time, it will enrich the experience of your employees by helping them feel successful and connected to your organization’s impact.  

This is at the heart of Intelligence for Good®, and we’re excited to share where we’re heading as we continue to strive toward the industry’s future with our customers. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Cobb is an accomplished innovator and change-agent capable of translating multifaceted data and analytics products into successful business initiatives and consumer experiences. She holds over 20 years of experience in developing data-driven analytic solutions, with the goal of leveraging advanced analytic methodologies and artificial intelligence to create easy to execute strategies for the social good community. As the Vice President and Head of Data Intelligence, Carrie leads the Data Intelligence Center of Excellence, and is responsible for the Blackbaud data strategy, vertical focused product innovation, data science and informatics disciplines, and data stewardship and ethics.  

When you combine data science with the social good community, the results can be remarkable. Data science capabilities powered by consumer, social, attitudinal, and philanthropic trends result in analytics-driven insights and prescribed actions to create awareness and enable effective supporter relationships. Fundraisers have relied on Carrie’s unique experience to help increase revenue year-over-year, build a loyal and active donor base, and improve program performance across all channels and focus areas. Significant data science accomplishments include conceptualizing, developing, and launching industry leading predictive analytics capabilities including the ProspectPoint, Principal Giving Solution, Target Analytics Affluence, Fundraising Essentials, and the Top Prospect Solution.  

Carrie holds a BS in Applied Mathematics from Coastal Carolina University, an MS in Strategic Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, and is currently enrolled in the Chief Data Officer program at Carnegie Mellon University. She also serves on the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Nonprofit Alliance, co-chairs of the Advisory Council on Methodology for the Giving USA Foundation, serves as Madison Institute Faculty Member for the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and is a board member with the Palmetto Military Support Group.  

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