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Pass the Data

Applying data mining techniques in our fundraising programs has been with us for at least a decade. It’s getting a lot more attention, lately, as nonprofits seek to eek out more dollars from their donors—with some success. Data mining is no longer a unique fundraising idea.

Principle 6 of The Eight Principles™ is Divide & Grow™. Stated simply, you must treat different people differently if your fundraising program is to scale. Not all potential investors respond in the same way to the same outreach.

Data mining can be used to positive effect to identify the differences between potential—and current—supporters.

Like any tool, data mining has its uses—and limitations. The unique fundraising idea is not data mining, per se, but the intelligent use of it.

Data mining is very good at identifying groups—even small groups—of individuals who share common traits. Understanding how those traits apply in fundraising requires intelligent interpretation.

Individuals, although a member of a particular group with certain common attributes, do not share every attribute, however.

The unique fundraising idea is that fundraising is ultimately about individuals regardless of the sophistication of the data tools you may be using,. Never forget it—not that they will let you.

Use data to sharpen your focus, not as a substitute for the flesh and blood of fundraising—your donor relationships.

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