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Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Insights Drives Effective Strategy

The individual brushstrokes of an Impressionist painting may not look like much. But when you see the whole work from a distance, the true picture becomes clear. It’s much the same with data. The micro-scale data points tell a story, but only when you look at the big picture do you see the big trends. That’s what gives you actionable insights to drive your strategic decisions.

Listen to your gut. And the data.

In the non-profit sector, budget is often tight and heavily scrutinized. There’s a lot of pressure on each and every marketing decision. But too often, spending gets approved or cut without a deep understanding of the “why” – or the “why not.” With media, production and deployment costs constantly on the rise, organizations can find themselves making knee-jerk decisions that may have serious consequences on fundraising KPIs.

Deprioritizing certain audiences or making rash changes to your messaging without a deep understanding of their importance could have long term affects for your overall program. That’s where sophisticated reporting tools can give you an edge. In today’s market, you can’t solely rely on basic response reports to tell you how your programs are performing.

Let data drive insights. And insights lead the way. 

Not all organizations have access to behavioural metrics or budgets to support advanced reporting, but when you look at the numbers, the difference they make is clear. In the charity sector, the pace of change has accelerated over the last few years with no signs of slowing. Gone are the days when you could have a stable annual forecast on the horizon. To keep pace today, you need more frequent reporting and more in-depth analysis. Many charitable organizations try to act on current trends, results or marketplace pressures, but lack access to the insights they need to take strategic action. This can lead to a significant opportunity cost. 

With tools like Blakely’s innovative Rapid Report tool, you can measure your performance on a monthly basis, allowing you to be nimble with your budget, make more informed decisions and pivot as necessary. This is especially important for today’s integrated, multi-channel programs where direct, social, digital and traditional media all fulfill different functions – and are measured in different ways. The visibility and insight to shift budgets in real-time can have huge impact on your results.

Building Your Business Case

Between tight budgets, bureaucracy and skeptical boards, it can be hard to make the case for change. The truth is, money makes a powerful argument. Having the right information can be transformational for your fundraising practice. And that means seeing both current trends and historical data to set accurate benchmarks. Blakely’s proprietary BENCH Report benchmarking tool looks at 10 years of performance within every area of your program. You’ll see a clearer picture of opportunities for growth and challenges to overcome.

The Real-World Impact of Insights

One area where you can make a measurable difference is in your reactivation rates. Your first reaction may be to cut inactive donors out of communications, but it will likely have consequences for the following year’s results. This presents you with a dilemma: long-term investment versus a quick win. So how do you choose?

Well, first you need to understand the cost of reactivating a donor versus acquiring a new one. All while knowing that reactivated donors have better retention rates than net-new ones. The key is to have historical data to form insights that help you invest.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re seeing declines in overall acquisition. To address this decline, you need to know what channels are driving this. Is it because you aren’t investing enough in digital acquisition versus traditional direct mail? Is it a problem with conversion caused by your online experience or gaps in your CRM strategy? Is it a lack of investment in brand awareness? To cure the condition, first you need to diagnose it.

Find the Right Balance

When it comes to metrics, more information is always better. And the right information is best. Building your programs on a foundation of behavioural metrics will let you accurately forecast for the future. And proper monthly reporting will give you the current data to validate your decisions. The sweet spot? Having the ability to implement tactics based on historical data with the monthly reporting metrics to see if those efforts are bearing fruit.

Want to see how Rapid Reports and BENCH can help you find your sweet spot?

Let’s chat. Blakely experts will be happy to show how our advanced tools can help you craft a data-driven strategy, regardless of your scale and mission. Really, we just love talking data!