JDRF’s Big Data Management
“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.
“It was trickling down to prove this makes our lives easier. Getting peer support and recommendations helped get buy-in, in addition to it being championed by our COO,” Martin says.
Availability and access
The goals in adding a system to streamline the donor data process were pretty simple. JDRF wanted easy access to data, easy analysis of the data and easy answers from the data for its staff.
With that in mind, JDRF chose dashboard solutions with the help of wealth intelligence and data analysis company WealthEngine. It implemented six dashboards that address all of the organization’s major fundraising areas. Now fundraisers have one central place to see how they’re tracking against their goals and pull data, Martin says. It’s easier to navigate and see more interactively how the data works together, combining the information from different systems into one place.