24 June 2021: Advancement professionals work in complex environments and enjoy a lot of autonomy in how they manage their time and projects. Good tools are essential. In this session for the Summer Conference for APRA Wisconsin, I will describe how using a simple notebook can help us be better leaders, managers, and professionals. This adaptation of the famous Bullet Journal method involves more than just taking good notes; it’s about accessing the captured content of our days in a progressive, creative way.
Most recent to earliest:
3 December 2020: “People (not tech) and Impact (not dollars)” was a two-part presentation for CASE Asia-Pacific. Analytics maturity in Advancement is not about greater and greater technical sophistication; it’s about people and how we make decisions. I told the story of how Advancement at Dalhousie University has developed to its current state of maturity in BI and analytics. We negotiated many technical hurdles along the way, but as organizations large and small have discovered, the toughest challenges may be cultural. In the second part, I looked at how our Advancement department demonstrates value to Dalhousie. How to show ROI to institutional and academic leaders who may lack a complete grasp of our work? Data and benchmarking are useful, but before that, Advancement must work effectively with academic leaders and align donors’ passions with the mission. Through pursuing partnerships for societal change that focus on institutional strengths, the seeds for proving Advancement’s value are sown before fundraising begins.
21 January 2020: Spoke at the CCAE Leaders in Advancement Summit in Toronto ON. “Analytics: Are we there yet?” … How does an organization get good at making decisions informed by data? This session describes the tools and the team that can deliver an analytics capability, by telling the story of how BI and analytics has developed in Advancement at Dalhousie University. The toughest leap, though, might be from capability to culture. More than software and expertise, data-informed decision making is a journey, not a destination.
7 June 2018: Co-presented with Colleen Bangs, Director, Alumni Partnerships, University of Calgary, at the CCAE National Conference in Halifax, NS, on the topic of measuring alumni engagement. I covered Dalhousie’s process for creating a multi-input engagement score, and Colleen talked about going beyond simply measuring to how it can inform how we do our work.
4 May 2017: I was in Banff, Alberta to speak to members of the National Council of Foundation Executives (Conference Board of Canada) on the journey towards data-informed decision making.
24 August 2016: I was in Sydney, Australia to present a one-day master class for CASE Asia-Pacific on using data to measuring alumni engagement. Alumni relations professionals who are competing for resources in order to enhance their programs have to use language that senior leaders understand. Budgeting for positions and programming involves making decisions, and decisions are increasingly expected to be informed by evidence — in other words, with data. Through the lens of two schools that have successfully developed measurement models, Dalhousie University in Canada and the University of Sydney in Australia, this master class explored in detail how to demonstrate value to the bottom line and to the organization’s mission through the measurement and tracking of alumni behaviours at the individual level. In five sessions, attendees learned how to get clarity on why one would want to quantify engagement, how to carry out such a project (who to involve, what methods to use, and what technologies can support it), and how such measurement relates to surveying, benchmarking, and predictive modelling.
19 April 2016: I joined a discussion panel for a two-hour chat on alumni engagement metrics at the 2016 CCAE Canadian Alumni Leaders Summit put on by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education in Toronto, ON.
25 February 2016: I spoke to Planned Giving professionals in my home city about how to work with technical or reporting staff to answer basic questions about their programs and identify the engagement factors most closely associated with likelihood to make a bequest — it’s not just about being a consistent, loyal donor. The session was called “SCORE with Data Driven Success”.
6 May 2015: I presented in Kingston, Ontario for the 10th conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Ontario Chapter (AFP SEO). The title was “Data: What’s in it for me?” In other words, what is predictive modeling, and why would your organization need it? In this session I talked about scenarios in which one’s organization might find value in doing a bit of data mining. I touched on how “big” your data has to be, what kinds of organizations can do this work (it’s not just universities!), and what kinds of data are the most useful to have. Several copies of the book “Score!: Data-Driven Success for Your Advancement Team” were given away in a draw.
22-24 April 2015: Annual National Conference of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), Halifax NS. In two separate presentations (one two hours, the other one hour), I spoke to Planned Giving professionals about how to work with technical or reporting staff to answer basic questions about their programs and identify the engagement factors most closely associated with likelihood to make a bequest — it’s not just about being a consistent, loyal donor. Consistent giving is a characteristic of many expectancies, but a database contains many other predictors as well which are too good to ignore. Download the handout: Data-driven prospect ID for Planned Giving
3 October 2014: APRA Illinois’ Fall Conference, Chicago IL (Loyola University Chicago, Water Tower Campus, Regents Hall) “Score! Live and in person: Peter Wylie and Kevin MacDonell.” The co-authors of “Score! Data-Driven Success for Your Advancement Team”, published earlier this year, presented a workshop combining an overview of the key concepts of data mining with a live demonstration of the creation of a predictive model for propensity to give. This demo employed a statistical software program and real data sets provided by workshop attendees. The demo encompassed the full range of modeling tasks, from evaluating the integrity of the data to outputting predictive scores for identifying new major gift prospects.
7-9 May 2014: CASE Institute for Senior Advancement Services Professionals, Fort Lauderdale FL. I attended this event primarily to learn, but I also signed copies of “Score! Data-driven success for your Advancement Team” during a break between sessions.
21-22 February 2013: I made a return visit to the DRIVE conference in Seattle, (Data, Reporting, Information, and Visualization Exchange). Session, “The ‘Analytic’ Investment”. Analytics and data-driven decision making is a journey, not a destination, and there are often more questions than answers. How is analytics going to change the game? What are the potential downsides and conflicts? What are the right conditions for moving forward? Can we just dip a toe in the water, or is it all-or-nothing? Will investing in specialized skills for one or two employees create new vulnerabilities? As professionals, will it impede our careers to not pursue new data skills? Will the return on investment be worth it? And finally, what is the cost to our organizations of not investing in analytics? (55 minute presentation – click here for video)
10-12 October 2012: I was a member of an “Ask the Experts” panel at the national conference of the Canadian Chapter of the Association of Prospect Researchers for Advancement (APRA Canada), in Toronto ON. The theme of the conference was Leading Discovery.
26-27 October 2011:DRIVE 2011– Data, Reporting, Information, and Visualization Exchange, Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle, WA. I spoke again on the theme of “This data is different,” explaining what I see is the difference between “everyday data” (such as data used for reporting) and “insight data” (the data used for predictive modeling). Everyday data and insight data have the same sources and look much the same, but insight data requires a whole different mindset. As well, because the creation and storage of insight data may not produce payoffs for decades, it is always at risk of being lost. I will speak about our responsibilities around protecting insight data as an institutional asset, and how we can nudge our organizations towards data-driven decision making. (60 minute presentation – click here for video.)
27-29 April 2011:CASE Institute for Senior Advancement Services Professionals, Baltimore, Md. I presented the luncheon keynote on the theme of “This data is different.” Interest in data mining for nonprofit fundraising is at an all-time high, but interest has not necessarily been converted into action. Advancement Services personnel are uniquely qualified to either lead the charge for analytics, or be a catalyst for its development. Taking the next step requires some changes in how we think about data. I offered concrete examples of how predictive modeling is applied in fundraising, and offered thoughts on fostering an analytics-focused culture. (45 minute presentation.)
24 February 2011: Presentation on data mining for Planned Giving, Halifax NS. Hosted by Canadian Association Gift Planners (CAGP). An introduction to predictors of Planned Giving potential that go beyond the conventional wisdom on prospect identification, i.e., focusing on consistent loyal donors. Consistent giving is a characteristic of many expectancies, but a database contains many other predictors as well which are too good to ignore. (30 minute presentation plus Q&A).
13-15 October 2010: APRA-Canada National Conference, Toronto ON. Co-presented a Data Mining Workshop with Peter Wylie. This workshop combined an overview of the key concepts of data mining with a live demonstration of the creation of two predictive model for propensity to give. The demo employed a statistical software program and real data sets provided by workshop attendees. The demo encompassed the full range of modeling tasks, from evaluating the integrity of the data to outputting predictive scores for identifying new major gift prospects. (Half-day workshop.)
21-22 July 2010: Data Analytics Symposium, Anaheim CA. This year APRA International bundled this great symposium with its annual national conference. My session, “Using survey data in your models”, explored the powerful predictive value inherent in survey data gathered by institutions, usually to serve purposes other than data mining. The primary focus was on one Canadian university’s participation in a national benchmarking study of alumni engagement. Points covered include survey design, survey delivery, and using the resulting data in regression analysis, including some specific examples of predictors and simple approaches for dealing with missing data. (90 minute presentation.)
21-24 July 2010: APRA’s 23rd Annual International Conference, Anaheim CA. I presented in the Data Analytics/Prospect Identification Track on Saturday, July 24. “Regression for Beginners” was aimed at researchers familiar with the simple scoring method for predictive models (a la Peter Wylie’s “Data Mining for Fundraisers”). This session looked at some of the limitations of the simple-score method and suggested the use of multiple linear regression. Intended only as an introduction to more advanced techniques, this session covered topics such as data preparation, correlation, and computing predictive scores. Minimal knowledge of statistics required. (90 minute presentation.)
21-23 April 2010: Association of Fundraising Professionals Maritime Fundraising Conference, Halifax NS.Basic data-mining techniques for Annual Fund, including a live demo of creating a predictive score using the stats software package Data Desk. (90 minute workshop)
29 March 2010: Introduction to data mining for universities and non-profits, hosted by Dalhousie University, focusing on models built for Phonathon, Planned Giving interest, and Event Attendance Likelihood. (90 minute presentation)
July 2009: Workshop on data mining for Annual Giving, for staff at University of Prince Edward Island. Phonathon, Planned Giving. (Full day workshop.)