Accessing Insights: Choosing A Solution

Jul 17, 2017

The past few blogs have focused on the very technical nature of data and analytics (which are necessary evils when you’re setting up your organization for data-driven decision making).  But most of the time, we just want to enjoy the magic, without necessarily peeking behind the curtain to see that the wizard is just a series of pulleys and ‘sleight of hand’.

The allure of accessing insights to improve fundraising results and strengthen donor relationships is where most organizations start.  No one says, “Let’s start a data infrastructure project to clean our data and generate tables!”  Instead, we look to what the market has that can answer our questions:

  • Are we headed in the right direction?
  • What revenue and stewardship opportunities are we missing?
  • Where are the threats to our fundraising programs?
  • How are we doing?
  • Where should we be focusing efforts?

Internet searches for ‘fundraising analytics solutions’ yield more than 663K results, so there’s definitely no shortage of ways for organizations to get answers to their questions.  The devil’s in the details, though, and finding the right solution for your needs, your budget, your comfort level with analytics (and the degree to which you need technical intervention for installation/delivery) is an exercise in patience.

There are some great sites that allow you to compare features, pricing and user experience of different CRM solutions.

Insights can be delivered in various methods (beyond the CRMs mentioned above):

  • Reports (periodic, static/filtered and on-demand)
  • Segmentation (based on your own donors’ behaviours or based on socio-demographic profiles linked to postal codes)
  • Dashboards (static and interactive)
  • Querying tools, information cubes,
  • CRMs
  • Consultants

Whichever solution you choose, I suggest a bit of due diligence:

  • Look into the type of support offered by the provider, especially if your organization does not have seasoned staff in IT and fundraising. Investing in support can make all the difference to being able to use a solution or having it sit idly “collecting dust”.
  • Don’t order a Cadillac (or a Tesla) if a bike will suffice. Not all organizations need the full-scale operational solutions with all the bells and whistles.  If you’re running a handful of campaigns every year, or have a modest donor base, you can probably get enough insight / expertise via consulting, reporting and/or segmentation.
  • Know where your organization wants to go. You may not need the Tesla today, but if the organization is investing heavily in acquisition, is changing its communications, is going omni-channel….then you may want to kick the tires a bit and consider taking the it for a test drive.


When ICG was developing its Lens Segmentation product, it focused on addressing those issues that most NFPs were facing when it came to deciding on which analytics solution to choose:

Cost-effective:  Many of the robust solutions on the market came with robust price tags, too.  This puts them beyond the reach of small- and mid-sized NFPs.

Minimal IT intervention:  Most NFPs have lean IT departments with resources dedicated to operations and not available for additional projects.  The Lens segmentation is delivered as a usable, actionable flat file that can be used right away by fundraisers without IT help.  Of course, the file can always be housed in a more permanent solution within your CRM (minimal IT work to upload the file).

Powerful, actionable insights:  The segments appended to your donor id’s go beyond traditional RFM to include donor lifecycle and baked-in strategies that you can apply right away.  Additional indicators can be used to fine-tune your targeting and selection for campaigns.  The segments link donors to 11 monthly reports so that any insight gleaned from a report can be actioned right away.

User-friendly:  A solution has to be easy to understand and use, otherwise it’s not really a solution.  ICG’s Lens Segmentation simplifies the production and use of analytics.  All it requires is your gift file.  Every month, you get a segmented donor file and 11 insightful reports to use in your analysis, strategy-building and targeting activities.

The Lens subscription is ICG’s solution to fundraisers’ needs for analytical insight, data-driven decisions and donor group reporting (Annual, Monthly, Lapsed, New, Major…).