Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
I may not be the world's biggest Bob Dylan fan but I know good strategic thinking when I hear it. While I am certain that Dylan's lyrics were not written with the slightest notion that he could be speaking truth to a nation of nonprofits, his words speak volumes about the importance of capturing, understanding, and benefitting from information about donors and their giving habits.
"Admit the waters around you have grown." Our nonprofit community is growing and changing rapidly. Technology must become the friend of nonprofits. You may be hearing the term "big data" a lot these days and be confused about how it relates to your agency. Regardless of how big or small the nonprofit, data analysis is fast becoming a tool that needs your attention. So if you are not capturing information about your donors in a systematic way, you are ignoring an opportunity that many thriving nonprofits in your community are embracing.
"And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone." If your fundraising revenue is growing, then the number of donors to your organization is likely growing as well. That means there is a lot of information about these donors - their gifts, their families, their assets, their birthdays and anniversaries, their children, etc. etc. etc. - that you should be capturing. An Excel spreadsheet may have worked fine in the past, but if you are seeing measurable increases in the numbers of annual or capital campaign gifts, you need better tools for capturing information and communicating with donors.
"If your time to you Is worth savin' then you better start swimming." Don't wait! For your mission to be sustainable in the years ahead, it is important to properly capture and analyze information. This can lead to uncovering gift opportunities you may never have known about; to your being better stewards of gifts received; to creating more targeted and effective appeals; and to building deeper relationships with more donors.
"Or you'll sink like a stone." Organizations who fail to capture and manage their donor information will be left behind as your counterparts embrace the new opportunities that their data analytics present. Ignore this at your organization's peril!
At Armstrong McGuire, we want to help you heed Mr. Dylan's strategic advice. Working with technology and date management professionals, we have developed a new service designed to help nonprofits select the right kind of donor management solutions. Based on an analysis of your tools and procedures, we can help you objectively navigate the options and match your needs with the right system for meeting them. We also make sure that the proper training and protocols are put in place so that the investment you make in your new technology will pay real dividends today and in the future.