Bad Bosses Hate Data
When you are wandering around your next P2P conference lunch, plate in hand, work hard to sit next to Kathryn Hall from Blackbaud. She’s smart. She’s funny. But more importantly, she can help you. Her blog, What Can Our Past Tell Us About Our Future, is a succinct tutorial on the use of data you have in hand right now.
Just like professional basketball players continue to practice basic acts like catching and throwing a basketball, we fundraisers have to sometimes be reminded of the basics of historical analysis, which supports better decision-making for the future.
If we were a for-profit, we’d be using language like “business intelligence” to describe the act of backward-looking data collection to inform decisions we have to make today. Creating business intelligence through data analysis is a required and expected part of the for-profit environment. Business intelligence drives strategy. If we aren’t going through those same processes as a nonprofit, regardless of the size of our program, we’re screwing up.
If your organization decided to forego a serious effort to identify your data sources and analyze what those various data sets mean, there are nefarious forces at work.
If your boss has used the phrase, “I really have my finger on the pulse of this thing so we don’t need to spend the time analyzing the data,” be afraid.
Translation (dialect = confused): “I don’t know how to analyze my data. What is a ‘data source’ anyway?”
Translation (dialect = pompous): “Seriously? Like that is going to tell me something I don’t already know.”
Translation (dialect = inert): “It doesn’t matter what the data says; this is the way we are doing it.”
At Turnkey, the entire business is built on identifying data sources and analyzing data to turn it into higher fundraising. The idea that one could have data and not use it is like ordering a fine meal and not eating it, or leaving the water running all day in the middle of a drought, or letting a perfectly good chocolate bar melt in the car. These things are truly wrong.
Katrina VanHuss has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Otis joined in the fun in 2013 as Turnkey’s resident human behavior expert. One thing led to another, and now as a married couple, they almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism and human decision-making, much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Through their work at Turnkey, the pair works with the likes of the American Lung Association, Best Buddies, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, using human behavioral tendencies and recognition to create attachment and high fundraising in volunteers.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P and Peer to Peer Forum, and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, Dollar Dash. They live in Richmond, Va.