Donor-Based Organizations and Big Data


With the news about the National Security Agency data mining phone, email and search records from Google, Yahoo, Verizon and other communications giants, everyone now knows something about big data.

And, one thing we have all concluded is that analyzing data to profile individuals is a highly efficient way to narrow down targets.

In the case of donor-based organizations, sophisticated data profiling translates into reduced marketing costs and increased donations. That’s a good thing.

So, what does donor profiling look like in a nutshell?

Let’s take a Hospital as an example.

It would be foolish to think that a direct response program out of an Oncology Department would target the same people and with the same message as a program out of a Pediatric Department.  So, an important step is refining targets is to profile existing donors.  By analyzing numerous characteristics and donation history, a model of the active donor begins to emerge — such as wealth, age, preferred donation method (direct mail or online), etc..  In the case of the Oncology Department, the donor profile is different than that of the Pediatric Department.

From this model, we append (add) to the donor profile from other robust consumer databases to create a more complete picture of potential donors.  We then look for “look alikes” that share demographic or psychographic attributes.

The refinement does not stop there.  In the example of the Oncology and Pediatric Departments, each month we append both in-patient and out-patient data to continuously refine the lists.  This monthly audit enables us to determine if the donor profile is morphing.  Each target in the refined list is then assigned a score, which defines whether or not they will be sent an appeal.  And, depending on the profile and score, a specific cross-media channel is determined to maximize response.

These processes require far more analyses that inferred above.  They also require important strategic interpretation of the data.  The simple outcome is that we fully understand who the donors and targets are; and we understand the preferred communications channel.

The bottom line is that data profiling, appending and auditing increases response rates and decreases marketing costs for donor-based organizations.

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