Donor Data Management position

If you’ve interested in steering the Blackbaud CRM implementation at a complex, multi-state health system, this manager of donor data management position in the Detroit area will be a great opportunity. Trinity is a wonderful employer and the leadership for this area is seeking a partner. Have a look at the position description (here) or click here for Trinity’s HR site.

Facebook is making some game-changing tools available

If you haven’t checked out https://nonprofits.fb.com/, do it. Now. This is Facebook’s effFacebook's Nonprofit Support Pageort to streamline a bunch of useful resources. Some of this is new but much is tried-and-true. How to reach your constituents. How to make it easy to give a gift. How to activate supporters.

Well, what are you still reading this for. Check out the site. And, let me know what you think. It may not change how some of us fundraise, but it will change fundraising for the better.

3 change management lessons learned from (attempted) travel this week

Many of us have been affected by this significant snow storm, most much worse than me. I was set to travel to LaGuardia tonight but the travel gods had other plans. This puts me in a pickle. I was heading to a client site and we have a great deal to cover.

As I waited to hear back about my airline alternatives to get to the NYC area before heading to LA this week, a few “ah-ha” moments popped to mind:

  1. Know your resources. When you’re in a bind, great problem-solving resources are essential. Do you have the right numbers in your contacts? Can you have someone help solve one problem (flights) while you solve another (rental cars). If not, get prepared for the unexpected. This approach–having plans B-Z and assignable resources in the wings–is also vital for great change management.
  2. Focus on the fixable. Being mad about the snow is like being mad about the sunrise. However, planning and preparation might make it easier to focus on what can be fixed. Could I fly, for example, to any of the other airports in the area? Can we still cover our subject matter remotely (yep!)? When can I get back to the area (two weeks!)? So, while not ideal, this change isn’t going  undo progress and there is no sense becoming unhinged about those things outside of my control.
  3. Prioritize your outcomes. In rough weather travel, as with change management, some things matter more than most. With travel, your wallet and passport can solve a ton of problems. With other changes, having your key stakeholders on board with a new direction in the face of change can make all of the difference.

As the great Mick Jagger once said (over and over again) “you can’t always get what you want”…which is so true in the case of travel and change management. As he told me “If you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.” In my case, I now need to get to California. Safe travels!

007+Q=Awesome Advancement Services

Have you seen Spectre, the newest 007 edition? It’s great fun. As with recent Bond films, Advancement Services and 007technology and data play an increasingly important role in achieving success. Sound familiar? I had an “ah-ha” moment during the film that the great and vital coupling of 007 and Q  (Bond’s resident tech-leveraging geek) is like the best advancement services shops. It might help your team to think the same. Here’s why:

  1. Partnership. The movies show a team that works together for a common cause. Each team member has a role and, if they perform it well, the other is clearly buoyed.
  2. Anticipation. Q is working hard in advance of requests from 007. In our profession, we should be, too. Instead, I see too many of us waiting for specs from folks who frankly may not know (how to ask for) what they want until they see “it”. So, with Q, he has “it” produced so 007 can assess and use what makes his job easier.
  3. Acceptance. Bond will be Bond. He steals a car, oh well. He escapes a government-mandated lock-down…well, what did you expect, he has to go save the world. Does Q stop supporting his colleague? Nope. He realizes that 007’s skill set is such that following the rules may not fly at times. The same goes for our best fundraising colleagues. Instead of chastising, Q enables in order to get the most out of a top performing employee. We should do the same with better service (such as via admin support), better self-service, and more understanding of the rigors of international spy…er, fundraising work.
  4. Quality. At the end of the day, Q produces amazing products that serve 007’s needs, which keeps 007 coming back for more. That sort of quality-based symbiotic is what we all need in our shops. Brand, look-and-feel, ease of access, accuracy–all of these play a role in our colleagues’ perception of the quality we produce.

Am I missing a few key details? Yes. At one point in the film, Q mentions a prototype cost the Queen 3 billion pounds. Most of us don’t have that budget lying around, do we? Our work is sometimes more mundane than saving the planet from evil, so the urgency and intensity of our roles will be different. And, we all know that not everyone in the British intelligence agency gets as much attention as Bond, which is similar to what happens in our own teams. But, as with any good film, we shouldn’t let reality get in the way of a good plot.

Those potential obstacles (and probably dozens of other objections) notwithstanding, think for a minute about your advancement services shop as Q partnering with 007, anticipating needs and accepting “shortcomings” while delivering the level of quality that keeps the user coming back for more. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Get to it, Q.

5 operations trends for 2016 and beyond

At the AHP International Conference this week, Dan Lantz and I have the honor of exploring five key operations trends with a group of innovators. Whereas a few years ago “big data” and “analytics” were the buzz words for operations in our industry, five new innovations will matter most in 2016:

1) CRM. Constituent relations management is everywhere and on everyone’s minds. In practice, many nonprofits have a CRM but they may only be thinking of the heavily marketing online applications that are taking up a lot of head space for nonprofits. The trick is to avoid the hype and realize the promise of CRM–structured, comprehensive data and online engagement resources available to staff and constituents on-demand.

2) Data Integration. The promise of CRM is often stymied by the reality of unstructured data in  many places. That Excel spreadsheet you keep for stewardship keeps you from realizing the benefits of  CRM. The report you hand-create in powerpoint for the Board result in a disconnected set of information. Data integration requires first a commitment to a single source of truth and second an effort to automate and streamline as much of the data gathering and management as possible. Many in healthcare are realizing some benefits here for grateful family programs. Much more is available on the horizon.

3) Outsourcing. The professionalization of the operations side of advancement is moving our team members from mere “entry” to “analysis”, allowing for a growth in caging services. We are also seeing a move in the vendor space to cloud-based, hosted IT services. These outsourcing  The more we can streamline the mundane tasks, the more our gift and data analysts can help us see patterns and better engage donors. Nonprofits are increasingly exploring the potential for outsourcing, which can be viewed as a very favorable thing. However, the organizational ramifications are significant so I expect many will not be too willing to explore this trend for fear of unsettling the work environment. That is a mistake. Our organizations deserve the highest functioning team members and, by removing the mundane from the day-to-day, you can cultivate a more engaged team.

4) Business Intelligence. BI is for many like a mythical unicorn on the hill. We have been talking about it for decades yet few have realized it. The notion–an integrated, complete set of data and reporting services that informs our business strategies while modeling our history–remains elusive but the tools available to support real BI have improved, as have great examples around the globe.

5) Social Data Management. If your organization does not yet have a social data management strategy, stop reading this and get started with one today. Beyond simply a Facebook post and engagement tactic, social data management requires that your organization do something strategic, systematic, and effective with the interactions. Ford pays Facebook $50 million a year for this sort of strategy…which means it may be a bit out of reach. However, you can start today by deciding when and how your team will not simply engage on social media but track and leverage what you learn for prospecting purposes.

All of these innovations must be handled in light of the lack of investment we have as an industry for such strategies. We must use our revenue to support our missions, of course, yet this means that (as indicated in the image above) we have very little to spend on operations.

What other trends are going to affect us all in 2016? What is your organization experiencing? Dan and I would love to hear what you’re thinking so we can share it in Orlando. And, we’ll share the presentation later this week.

Gift Administration Data: from Intake to Finalization

An age-old advancement services challenge is to balance accuracy, speed and volume in gift administration. The “through put” or “turnaround” time for handling gifts can vary wildly for good (and sometimes not so good) reasons.

This survey data suggest some starting points for how much time and energy are typically spent on gift administration tasks. Have a look and consider comparing this to your own environment as you build out your metrics:  Gift Processing Benchmarking

 

 

Don’t Mistake FTEs for Expertise

Headcount, salaries, and FTEs are very much in the news for our industry. Pay levels for executives are being scrutinized. Team sizes are being questioned.

Many hands makes light work
Many hands makes light work

The notion of doing “more with less” is never one I’ve embraced, although most organizations have plenty of opportunity for incremental improvements from their existing team. In my years of consulting, I have found that team members are coach-able, social sector infrastructure is underfunded, and, therefore, organizations need to leverage the team they have.

The caveat, though, is that we shouldn’t mistake FTEs for expertise. That is, “more with more” may not be the case. This message has stuck with me in many ways. I’ve had employees who were more productive and effective in a few hours than some were all week. I’ve seen clients hire firms to “throw bodies at the problem” only to find that inexperienced (even if book-smart) contractors often make easily avoidable mistakes.

Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of an experienced crew. In our industry, where turnover is rampant and investment is too low, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Retain, retain, retain. Where you have a great person in place, reward and retain them. You’ve likely seen someone refer to “one year of experience, ten time” to refer to a professional that hasn’t really learned much year-over-year, generally because of job hopping. If you have a great team member, assume they will be poached and do something about it.
  2. Grow with impact in mind. A careful plan to add team members based on the impact and results that position will drive is essential. I completed a project for a large academic medical center that doubled their team size, but more importantly had a training, retention, and career development plan designed to keep and promote the best people. The reality is that fundraisers, in particular, need a few years to optimize their productivity, so build a plan that accommodates that reality.
  3. Don’t assume more people and hours equal productivity. Hiring a big firm to “do everything” will increase the hours available, yet the impact of those hours may be much less productive than you desire. Before assuming the “bigger equals better”, determine if your optimism will match the reality of the situation.
  4. Be smart with your “B” students. I’m a proponent of top performers and going the extra mile to retain them; my clients too often lose top performers for the cost of a 10% raise. Your next tier of performers needs special attention, too. Because they may be less desirable to executive search professionals, you have a chance to retain them and coach them into high levels of impact. Have a “stay plan” for folks designed to get them to want to be on the team as long as they remain a good performer.

Just adding lots of FTEs is not a great plan. When budget and approval are available, it can seem like a bonanza, requiring immediate plans to load up on people or engage a contractor. Do so cautiously. Put expertise (and retention of expert team members) first in those plans. True up salaries for long-standing employees whose results have been proven. Then, with retention concerns allayed, get yourself the most talented and experienced people possible, one FTE at a time.