Clear Data Strategy Crucial to Justify Fees and Grow Loyalty say UK Membership Bodies

by jbuckley 8. July 2014 15:38

Last week, 20 of the UK’s best known membership organisations came together at The Royal College of Surgeons in London to discuss the challenges facing membership bodies as we move into a more data-centric era. In a similar vein to our last debate, which focused on charities, we knew that data management would be as much of a hot issue for member organisations. However, as became apparent early on, they have distinctly different priorities. 

Advanced NFP representatives Allen Reid and Sally Scott were joined by some big name speakers to debate the issues including Brychan Watkins, CIO, Royal  British Legion; Melanie Knight, Database Manager, The Fostering Network; Janet Snedden, Chair, Institute of Fundraising Insight SIG and Yash Manipatruni, Database Administrator, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Heath (RCPCH).

All agreed with our recent research that reported 96 per cent of UK non-profits are struggling to manage and make use of the data they hold about their member supporters; many reporting no overall ownership of data management within their organisations. But, for UK membership bodies, one issue came through loud and clear.

How do we use data to remain relevant to supporters and prove the value of their membership fees?

Proving the Value of the Fee
Like charities, membership organisations rely on support from the public to survive but, in the case of member bodies, subscription or membership fees are what keeps them afloat. Many, however, report membership erosion, as a result of increasing choice and ‘member fatigue’.

Most agreed that ‘mail malaise’ and the huge increase in online information, tools and advice has reduced the relevance of many membership organisations; why pay to be a member if all the information is freely available on the web? The trick, then, is to use member data to become more relevant – to communicate in a way that resonates with a member’s own, individual preferences and habits – and not assume that a ‘spray and pray’ approach to member relations will work.

Organisations such as the Scouts and Army Cadet Force Association found that, by creating clever (and age appropriate) communication, they have seen member numbers grow and attrition reduce. “It’s no good targeting 14 year olds with Barney the Dinosaur, that won’t work, we have to look carefully at what the data tells us about our membership and match outreach with that insight.”

Advanced NFP’s Senior Analyst, Allan Reid, commented: “It’s becoming more and more difficult for membership bodies to prove their relevance. Consumers are wiser and more familiar than ever with finding what they need online and so it’s never been more important to demonstrate real value within that membership fee. Communicating in a more structured, analytical way, that allows demographic segmentation of messages and outreach means members will feel nurtured and keep them loyal for longer.”

Reid continues: “If membership organisations take time to combine, clean, corroborate and classify their member data, and create something tailored for each segment, members are more likely to want to stay. After all, longevity of membership is the key priority for all these organisations.”

We’d love to get your views on the above debate; do get in touch to tell us what you think.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @SimonFowlerADV, @Advanced_NFP and @NFP_World

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Advanced NFP news | Charity Software | Events | Membership Software

Industry Debate to Lift Lid on Data Management Issues within Membership Associations

by jbuckley 27. June 2014 09:17

As part of our series of high level industry roundtable debates focusing on non-profit data management, Advanced NFP will throw the spotlight on membership organisations and their very distinct challenges within the NFP sector.

Taking place on Thursday 3rd June at the home of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, we will be joined by some of the UK’s most established associations and membership bodies to look at our recent data management research (link) through the lens of a membership body.

We will be joined by the Royal British Legion’s CIO, The Fostering Network and the Institute of Directors. Janet Sneddon, Chair at Institute of Fundraising’s Insight Special Interest Group and CEO of MetaMetrics, will also be attending.

At our last event, we shared the results of our recent NFP data management research with a room full of UK charities and revealed 96 per cent of NFPs are struggling to manage, decipher and capitalise on the terabytes of data they hold about their members and supporters. Everyone agreed that gaining senior support for data management projects, and being able to demonstrate ROI, are the two key factors in being able to implement successful data management projects (link to blog post). But does the same ring true for member-driven organisations?

Membership organisations face many of the same issues that charities face; limited funding and a reliance on membership subscriptions, increasing competition from other bodies and the rise of social media – increasing membership via multiple channels. But, arguably, the biggest challenge facing membership organisations is in proving the value of the subscription to maintain loyalty – with data management lying at the heart of this challenge.

But how are they coping and does their experiences match those of their charitable counterparts? We’ll hear the views from our association attendees and report back from what is sure to be a useful discussion.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced NFP)

For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @SimonFowlerADV and @Advanced_NFP





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Fundraising 3.0 – is your charity ready?

by jbuckley 17. June 2014 07:05

Follow this check list to see if you are ready!

There’s a lot of attention in the media about the new generation of online activity – dubbed Web 3.0 – which is the next step of the evolution of the internet and web applications. As emerging trends come into play, whether it’s more intuitive searching or viewing the internet through different devices, we’re seeing this transition prompt new terminology in the third sector – that of Fundraising 3.0. Charities and NFPs are called to adopt new ‘Fundraising 3.0’ approaches – that go beyond email marketing and social media campaigns, and are based on the analysis of donor behaviour. We’re asking whether organisations are ready to take full advantage of these opportunities.

We’ve developed a check list to help charities and NFPs review whether they have maximised opportunities in the digital age to date, and so are deemed to be ready to make the move to embrace new ‘Fundraising 3.0’ strategies.

Fundraising 3.0 readiness checklist:

Organisations need to ask themselves to what extent can they, in a joined up and efficient manner, and with good-quality data reporting, manage and support the following:

• Customer/member/donor relationships;
• Fundraising and campaign activities;
• Membership and subscriptions;
• Events and conferences;
• Timely financial consolidation;
• Merchandising and sales order processing;
• Lotteries and public collections;
• Grant applications;
• Legacy marketing;
• Distribution;
• Service delivery;
• Full web site integration;
• Integration with social media platforms; and
• Digital communications - via email, mobile, SMS and more.

How easy - or difficult – would it be to report against these activities, both in isolation as well as in one report? Do you have a single version of the truth when it comes to looking at the relationship between each of the above and what effect they have on each other? Looking at the role of software to help integrate data across these areas will help maximise the potential to maintain and grow the opportunity around consumer giving.

You can read more about Fundraising 3.0 and see this check list in context in the new white paper we’ve just published. The white paper covers the evolution of the digital age, looking at current hurdles and issues such as the role of social media in driving donations. It’s designed to provide a snapshot of some of the current topics and barriers that organisations are facing, in a very practical manner. We hope you find our Fundraising 3.0 readiness checklist a good place to start to see whether you’re ready to take advantage of the new opportunities around fundraising campaigns. Fundamentally, we want to ensure your NFP can maximise the sometimes small but often crucial role that technology plays in turning social data into repeat donations.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions
 
For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @Advanced_NFP and @SimonFowler

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Advanced NFP news | Charity Software

Senior buy-in and a proving ROI top issues in solving NFP data management issues

by jbuckley 27. May 2014 09:00

The auspicious surroundings of London’s Science Museum provided an evocative backdrop for Advanced NFP’s latest round-table event – this time focusing on the thorny subject of Third Sector data management, and whether poor data management represents a serious challenge to the future success of fundraising for UK not-for-profit organisations. Leading charities including Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International, RSPB and the Woodland Trust, to name a few, came together to debate the issues and share valuable insight.

The event kicked off by showing the, now infamous, Save the Children ‘Christmas Jumper’ spoof video of The Killing – if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look here.  It was a great example of how creative Third Sector organisations are becoming in order to drive fundraising, but as important, how this kind of multi-channel creativity is driving new support through non-traditional channels. It also set the scene for the debate, by raising new challenges about how do charities capture and maximise the data of those new donors……

As previously reported, Advanced NFP recently surveyed over 300 UK non-profits to find out how they’re coping with increasing amounts of member data driven by increasingly creative multi-channel campaigns. The results were shocking; nearly all NFP organisations are struggling to collect and analyse data effectively, which is affecting their ability to adapt and grow. But did these statistics resonate with real experience, or would our attendees report something different?

The reaction was unanimous; everyone around the table, whether from large or small organisations, has grappled (and continue to do so) with large volumes of data, coming from a multitude of disparate sources, driven by multi-channel campaigns and the rise of online fundraising activity.

For many, like James Kliffen, Head of Fundraising at Médecins Sans Frontières, the importance of understanding and acting on online supporter activity has meant the difference between flat-lining fundraising and a healthy increase in donors – which he put down to being a data-driven organisation and embracing effectively the online world.

In fact, gaining senior support for data management projects came through loud and clear as the biggest issue for NFPs. Many cited generational understanding as a key factor with others a natural disinterest amongst some senior managers whose expertise doesn’t lie in data analysis but in fundraising.

Another prevalent theme was the need to measure ROI and quantify the savings from better data management – an ongoing issue to get support and investment at the highest level to ensure charities can unlock the value of its data and secure future investment?

There was some natural cynicism amongst the audience, where individuals discussed that there needed to be room for failure, which just often wasn’t accounted for.  Questions were raised such as: “Does poor data mean your charitable objectives are being swept under the carpet? Are you pulling wool over your own eyes?” – based around the premise of having fundraising objectives which switch quickly to brand awareness objectives when they fail.

We’ll be using some of the insight to develop a new series of blogs over the forthcoming months. If there are any topics you’d welcome greater depth around, please get in touch. In the meantime, we’ll be back with more insight from our next event with membership organisations in July; watch this space for more and let us know if you’d like to take part. 

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

Further information can be found here:
 
For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @SimonFowlerADV and @Advanced_NFP

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Advanced NFP news | Charity Software | Events | Membership Software

Lack of time and resources cited as reason for poor data management in NFPs

by jbuckley 21. May 2014 08:23

In our second blog – as part of our new series of blog posts around our recent research study, conducted with over 300 UK NFPs - we look at the reasons why charities and membership organisations find it difficult to work more effectively with the data they hold about their supporters.

As you’ll recall, the results of our State of the Nation report revealed nearly all NFP organisations are struggling to effectively collect and analyse valuable data which, as a result, threatens to erode hard-won loyalty…but what are the reasons why they’re finding it such a challenge?

Charities could make better use of data
Almost all survey respondents (96 per cent) say they could make better use of the data they already have with most not having accurate data about organisational effectiveness, marketing effectiveness, service users or projects, their members and or supporters, employees and even finances.

Data management and storage methodologies vary widely between organisations and many face a daily struggle to report in a consistent and effective way.

Eghty-seven per cent enter the same data more than once and 80 per cent have difficulty producing reports that require data from different systems. As a result, 78 per cent report conflicting data and 69 per cent have difficulty understanding data or reports from different parts of the organisation.

The reality is, in this highly digitalised, data-centric environment, organisations that can extract behavioural insights from customer data and transform them into ‘sticky’ services will be in a stronger position to attract new supporters, as well as engage and retain existing audiences.

An inability to manage data to gain a competitive advantage is the single biggest threat facing NFPs right now. With 60 per cent of NFPs without unified CRM / data management, there’s a real risk they will trail behind in this data-driven era.

We’ll interrogate all these issues tomorrow at the Science Museum, where we will be hosting an Advanced Business Solutions’ high level industry round table debate. We’ll be looking at how well non-profit organisations are adapting to the explosion of supporter data, and their ability to convert insight into revenue and growth.

Advanced Business Solutions’ marketing director, Sally Scott, and product manager, Charles Bagnall, will be joined by some influential industry personalities to debate the issues of the day and to share best practice in what is sure to be a lively discussion. We will be joined by James Kliffen, Head of Fundraising at Médecins Sans Frontières; Janet Snedden, Chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Insight Special Interest Group and CEO of MetaMetrics; Iain Pritchard, Partner at Adapta Consulting and the session will be moderated by Howard Lake, Editor of Fundraising.co.uk.

Watch this space for more from the event itself!

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

Further information can be found here:
 
For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @SimonFowlerADV and @Advanced_NFP

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Advanced NFP news | Charity Software | Events | Membership Software

High Level Round Table to Debate Big Data Management Threat to NFP Sector

by jbuckley 16. May 2014 08:33

We’re a charitable lot in the UK. In the face of serious economic challenges, recent statistics published by Halifax show that Britons are digging deep for good causes; in fact, 76 per cent of us donate the same or more to charities now than before the economic downturn began.

It’s getting easier for people to support favourite causes too – social media and online giving services raise the profile of worthy causes and, more importantly, make it simple to ‘manage’ our individual charitable profiles. With this increased engagement comes rich, insightful data which, when used cleverly, can deepen relationships with donors – and attract new ones.

This should be great news for charities but, as a recent Advanced Business Solutions research report shows, many are struggling to decipher and capitalise on the explosion in supporter data now at their fingertips.

We surveyed over 300 UK-based Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisations – charities and membership organisations – to investigate how well they’re managing their membership data. The results were surprising. According to the report, 96 per cent of NFPs are struggling to manage, decipher and capitalise on the terabytes of data they hold about their members and supporters.

Nearly all NFP organisations are struggling to effectively collect and analyse valuable data which, as a result, threatens to erode hard-won loyalty. It also reveals that 75 per cent of those surveyed don’t have the time, skills or funds to resolve these issues - threatening their long-term success.

We’ll be debating some of these challenges next week at London’s iconic Science Museum, where we will be hosting an Advanced Business Solutions’ high level industry round table debate. We’ll be looking at how well non-profit organisations are adapting to the explosion of supporter data, and their ability to convert insight into revenue and growth.

Taking place on the 22nd of May, Advanced Business Solutions’ will be joined by some influential industry personalities to debate the issues of the day and to share best practice in what is sure to be a lively discussion. We will be joined by James Kliffen, Head of Fundraising at Médecins Sans Frontières; Janet Snedden, Chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Insight Special Interest Group and CEO of MetaMetrics; Iain Pritchard, Partner at Adapta Consulting and the session will be moderated by Howard Lake, Editor of Fundraising.co.uk.

Watch this space for more; we’ll share more insight from our research report in the coming days and will be blogging from the event on the 22nd.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

Further information can be found here:
 
For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @SimonFowlerADV and @Advanced_NFP



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One of the greatest fundraising days of the year - The London Marathon Charities, make sure you are making the most of this opportunity

by Simon Fowler 14. April 2014 10:30

Yesterday, 13th April, was an inspirational day for the thousands of people who took park in running the London Marathon. It also involved thousands of other people supporting the event, who either helped organise it, simply spectate, or those who made donations to the runners each raising money for their chosen charity.

The London Marathon has become one of the most significant fundraising events in the UK. It’s predicted that more than 1,300 charities across Britain will benefit from additional funds as a result of the sheer hard work, training and dedication of each runner. Just last week, Nick Bitel, chief executive of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: "All indications are that the fundraising figures for the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon will hit another record-breaking amount, and will be up on last year’s figure of £53m.” (read more here)

What especially interests me is whether those charities will be maximising the opportunity that each new donation – instigated by the London marathon - might offer, by making sure they engage with those new donors into the future.

Just imagine the scenario – you commit to support your friends very generously in their marathon run and during their training, get involved in the tale around their chosen charity. You are perhaps already quite familiar with the reasons behind why they picked that cause. Assuming you’ve had the opportunity to (and are happy to) share your data with the charity, a few days or weeks after the London Marathon you get an email from the charity. This is thanking you for your donation and even more, tells you what your donation will be spent on – how it will make a difference to a particular individual, community or organisation. It might prompt you to donate again, get more involved and perhaps become a regular donor – who knows, you might even decide to run the London Marathon yourself next year and choose that charity to benefit from any money you raise.

Personalised communication is a win-win for everyone – the donor feels great and the charity benefits from regular and/or increased donations. But fundamentally, this engagement will only happen if you – as the person responsible for fundraising in the charity you work - send that tailored and targeted email to the individual. To do that, you have to be able to capture, segment and act upon that data which is usually held within a robust CRM system.

Just last month, we carried out some independent research which showed that a lack of data management was one of the biggest threats to the future fundraising potential of charities. Our State of the Nation Data Report showed that nearly all NFP organisations – including charities - are struggling to effectively collect and analyse valuable data which, as a result, threatens to erode hard-won loyalty from those people willing to donate to charities. It also revealed that 75% of NFPs surveyed don’t have the time, skills or funds to resolve these issues- threatening their long-term success.

Almost all (96%) of respondents revealed that they could make better use of the data they already have, with most saying they don’t have accurate information on their organisational effectiveness, marketing effectiveness, service users or projects, their members and or supporters, employees and even finances.

If our research is of interest, you will find a recent release on the topline findings here

The final and full report is available for download here

I hope you’ll be in touch if you’re one of those charities concerned that perhaps you might not be capitalising on the wealth of data that you hold, or in fact worried that you’re not even capturing the information you could from potential donors. Technology can play a significant role in helping you overcome these challenges to realise the potential of every donation.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director

Advanced Business Solutions

For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @Advanced_NFP and @SimonFowlerADV

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Charity Software | Events

How important is data to not-for-profit organisations?

by jbuckley 25. March 2014 14:50

And should it be higher up the agenda?

Only last week I woke up to BBC 5 Live’s breakfast programme to hear about new research, from nfpSynergy, revealing which fundraising methods were most popular – and the most irritating - with the public. The headline focused on how more than half of people find it ‘very annoying’ to be asked for money on their doorstep or the telephone.  More modern methods of fundraising are apparently also unpopular, with 33% irritated by text messages and 20% unhappy with receiving emails.

You can read the full findings by clicking here. Despite the high levels of annoyance, the report revealed that people did understand that some methods are effective ways to raise money. These included newspaper/magazine adverts (42%), radio (40%), collection tins (35%) and mailing appeals (31%).

Having recently shared my predictions about the most compelling technology trends for not-for-profit organisations in 2014 (you can read more here), the report brought to mind some of these points, especially looking at the importance of personalisation and big data. Surely organisations that are engaged with their donors effectively can inform and target them in a more tailored way, providing they have been able to analyse the data they hold on their donors in (effective) CRM systems. They should be able to act upon this information to drive personalised conversations and ensure they are using the methods and channels of communication based on information about customers’ preferences and habits.

Later this week, we will be announcing new independent research that Advanced Business Solutions commissioned which reveal insights about the role of data for not-for-profit organisations and whether the power of data is being harnessed effectively by charities and memberships. The research backs up my views that the focus on delivering a richer, more personalised experience needs to remain high on the agenda. The reality is that NFP organisations must ensure their IT systems give them access to a connected view of their customers’ data. The ability to act on this to deliver a tailored and targeted experience for the customer can only enhance and drive closer engagement, encouraging more donations and more effective fund-raising.

As charities and memberships embrace the role of data, I’m looking forward to seeing new research reveal how charities have transformed fund-raising methods based on insights from customer data resulting in increased donations from existing and new donors. Wouldn’t that be an incredible endorsement for the role in which data can play in driving relevant engagement with the public?

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

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CHASE kicks off with news from us

by jbuckley 11. February 2014 06:24

Today, the 22nd Charities and Associations Event (CHASE 2014) opens for two days at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Advanced is a headline sponsor and we’ll be hosting two seminars taking place during the event. The one I’m really excited about will examine the hybrid best-of-breed and generic CRM approach for NFP organisations and the role Microsoft Dynamics™ plays in that; we believe charity and membership organisations such as professional associations and fundraising bodies can have it all, benefitting from the rich functionality they need to run membership management and fundraising programmes but without a hefty bill for a bespoke project.

We want to open the debate on this hybrid approach to CRM; you can read more about it here. The time is definitely right for us at Advanced, following our acquisition of the NFP business from CSH Group last year. We are seeing demand from new, and existing customers which is fuelling growth - in fact, we’ve had more than 40 new organisations go live with our CRM fundraising and membership solutions since the acquisition in March 2013. There are some incredible brands amongst our new clients, including the CIPD, Royal Geographical Society, Victim Support, Care for the Family and the FSB, to name but a few. Please click through here to read about this latest news.

Overall, feedback from customers is positive about our commitment and investment in the sector, which culminated at NFP World in October last year with a rallying speech from our CEO, Vin Murria. It was here that we first announced our intention to introduce a Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM interface to our solution and confirmed the future intention around our existing solutions.

The CHASE event marks our continued and ongoing focus in this sector and we hope to see packed rooms at our seminars. Of course, feel free to come over to meet the team at our stand – we look forward to meeting you.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @Advanced_NFP or follow me directly: @SimonFowlerADV

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Call to action for not-for-profit organisations - do European payments effect you?

by jbuckley 27. January 2014 17:13

On the 1st February 2014, the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) regulation comes into effect. The whole concept of SEPA revolves around the principles of integration and harmonisation. The regulation establishes the rules and technical requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euros. It’s true that this only effects a small percentage of not-for-profit organisations in the UK – it only covers payments in euros - the UK’s sterling direct debit scheme is not effected. However, for those British based organisations that handle direct debit payments for members or donors, for example in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe, they will have to ensure their systems adhere to the new regulations.

We’ve had some customers request help to ensure they are ready for the changes. The development work required for software vendors to provide for this is not minor. Within the Advanced not-for-profit CRM and membership systems, we have ensured conformity to the SEPA XML standards and have made the necessary database changes to ensure data validity with regards to international bank account numbers. All of our customers can rest assured they are covered when payments in euros effect their customer base.

Technology is a driving force in ensuring organisations can operate in an integrated manner, be it how they engage with customers through to how they manage payments. The premise behind this harmonisation of payments in euros represents a desire to remove barriers to doing business together, something which I wholeheartedly support.  For charity and membership organisations it means our systems can handle the growing number of donors or members who live in one country but have their bank account in another Eurozone country. In the short-term it may represent a degree of pain as organisations need to embrace a change in working practices and financial procedures to meet the new requirements. However, looking ahead, encouraging integration across Europe can only be a good thing for everyone involved. So be sure to check that you’re ready for the new SEPA regulations if they affect your not-for-profit and that your CRM technology has kept up with the new legislation changes.

Further information can be found here: http://www.paymentscouncil.org.uk/what_do_we_do/european_payments/the_sepa_regulation/

As ever do get in touch if you have any comments or queries.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director
Advanced Business Solutions

For all news and stories see our website or follow us on Twitter: @Advanced_NFP and @SimonFowlerADV

 

 

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Advanced NFP news | Charity Software

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