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.
Otis spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising” and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has degrees in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina also regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.