Big Data, Crowdfunding and the Fundraising Technology Craze
All this played into turnaround times for reports spanning weeks and sometimes even months to get a question answered.
“By the time you got the data you needed to make a decision, you had moved on,” Martin says. “Time had passed, and it was too late. You already developed another strategy. We needed to have a way to more efficiently use all this data we were collecting.”
But before it could find a solution, JDRF needed buy-in from executive leadership.
Taking the lead — from the top
The biggest decision JDRF had to make when embarking on this data project was choosing who should drive this IT initiative. Should it be the IT side of the organization or the business side?
“A couple of years ago when we started this, our [chief operating officer], James Szmak, chose the business side to lead the program, and it was a little bit of a cultural shift,” Martin says.
JDRF’s staff already had a strong partnership with its IT department, but Szmak, coming from an IT background himself, tabbed two fundraisers to lead the initiative — one from major gifts and the other from prospect research. And Szmak championed the project himself.
“Having someone at such a high level championing this helped get executive buy-in,” Martin says.
However, that buy-in did not happen overnight. Adding another system is always a challenge, Martin says, and you have to account for training employees on using it, supporting them, getting them to adopt the system and getting full buy-in. It’s been an ongoing process for JDRF.
First, it started at the national level with the executives, showing them how adding a new data solution would make the data management process more efficient. It then went to the regional staff that oversees the individual chapters and then moved down to the individual chapter fundraisers and events staff.