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News from The Blog
By admin on 11/9/2014

 The SupportingAdvancement Blog has been around for over 10 years, and due to an upcoming major change in the technology with our hosting provider, we’re having to move the blog to a new platform over the next number of months (there are a lot of entries to review, update and convert.)


So you’ll see the current posts and the blog disappear bofore they get moved to more current techology on a new site. We appreciate your patience and consideration in this move and look forward to continue to provide you with useful content in the future.


Brian Dowling

Principal and Founder


By admin on 3/19/2014
Design experts understand that great design addresses every product detail. Think about companies that are experts at design – Bose, Apple, Kohler – how do we integrate great design into reporting and analytics? We read mixed case 15%-20% faster than upper case. The mind recognizes letters and additionally the shapes of words. Concepts like this are very important since ease of use is a critical aspect of design. A piece of information should be able to convey its principle message in just a few seconds. We want our consumers to “reach the brand” or “engage the brand” and design helps them to do this. Information should adhere to the organization’s brand –design your information so it has credibility, the right focus, conveys the right message and has an effective brand. Are colors you use in graphs using the same color palette as your logo? Good design helps viewers organize information easily. One approach is to have a style guide or standards so your information has the same look and feel. If the report…
By admin on 3/14/2014
Ignaz Semmelweis changed the world by showing that if doctors washed their hands there was a much smaller chance of transmitting infections. This discovery, like many others was based on data. People that did calculations with data during the life of Ignaz were called computers. Over time, the meaning of computer has obviously changed as machines have taken over the mundane calculating, but people are still using their powers of questions and curiosity to discover answers to problems. Machines are challenged when it comes to making inferences – humans are more comfortable with the semantic inferences involved in relating data to decisions. Think about how people use spreadsheets – many that have “grown up” with spreadsheets often look at formulas to make sure that they are correct – but they may stop at that point. Even if the formulas are working, this doesn’t provide insight into stories that the information may be telling. In this case we may be relying too much on the machine for insight. We need…
By admin on 3/5/2013
What do you need to do to win? Organize your information and make it universally available to everyone in your organization. Is your analytics “the largest library, with all the books on the floor?” How do you find the pieces of information that you need, how do you transmit this knowledge throughout your organization and provide what’s relevant? We’ll talk about this a little and look at some examples from Google. Every day, 16% of all searches on Google are new – questions that have never been asked before. Google’s contribution to analytics was creating a sea-change in the way advertising was done – the contribution was that Google is constantly driving the need for improving all aspects of analytics to serve up and deliver ads – and they’re even using analytics to create self-driving cars. These ideas are changing the world – how can you use data to radically transform the world? What are some of the challenges in using analytics? Fundraising is more data driven today than it has been in the past. There…
By admin on 12/10/2012
Originally Posted March 2005 and Updated There have been a couple of postings on PRSPCT-L recently about why subscribers are getting spam emails. Mass e-mailers tailor their messages to get through spam filters and blockers and constantly revise their strategies – they’re very devious and relentless. Try a search on your email addresses and see where they’ve been published. A public email address can be something as “innocent” as your email in a PDF file in a brochure published on a web site. Robots constantly churn through sites looking for contact information 24 X 7. Don’t publish your email address anywhere unless you’re willing to accept additional spam. Use some of the free email services such as Microsoft Live, Yahoo or Google for subscriptions, signing up for access to web sites, subscribing to email newsletters etc. If you start to get too much spam, you can cancel your account, create another, and sign up again. More than 80% of all business collaboration is typically done through email. …
By admin on 12/2/2012
We’re at a point where there’s so much more data every day and less analytics. One of huge differences in political fundraising over the last few years is the incredible impact of good information required to raise huge amounts of money. Analytics is not about technology – it’s about people – people that make decisions such as voters. Executives and management make decisions about how to sell to the people that make decisions. Hasbro manages about 1,500 brands of toys and needs to understand which is more profitable, which sell more which will trend higher in the sales mix in the future. How do you bring a new product to a market such as a major fundraising campaign? People are not watching television, not reading newspapers as much and are looking at the Internet. In this day and age there may be 15 to 20 channels that we need to use to market a campaign. It’s increasingly challenging to collect and understand the appropriate metrics to have the necessary holistic understanding of how it all ties together….
By admin on 11/1/2012
As iTunes has replaced FM radio and other sources for listening for music, are we better off now or were we better off with Vinyl and CD’s? When vinyl was king big labels signed artists for 3-5 record contracts and there were 10 to 12 songs per album. When CD’s came out, they were more expensive but were virtually indestructible (no warping and skipping) but artists felt compelled to fill up the CD with up to 20 songs to fill the whole 60 minutes. Were we better off? I traded in all of my vinyl for CD’s and moved on. It seemed like I was acquiring more sounds, they took up less space – but the colder and more precise sound of CD’s was a little different than the warmer sound of vinyl. There are always tradeoffs. With digital music users started sharing. Unit sales dropped, artist royalties and record company revenues plummeted. Early web sites such as allowed a grass roots approach to music where artists could post and advertise and set their own price points – without needing signing by the big labels. I moved all my music to my hard drive but still needed CD’s for the car….
By admin on 10/23/2012
As systems become more complex, and we get data from a variety of sources, what would be considered the best practices to load this data in? We’ll ignore manual data entry in this post and assume that we already know how to do that – as effectively and efficiently as possible. At times, this might be the only way, but we can always plan for more automation. The First Step – Plan, Develop Metrics and Monitoring Tools Prioritize a list of the most common data elements that need to be uploaded/entered and managed. A starting point is to review a good book on analytics – data mining – which can help point out which data elements are important to your organization. As a first step you can run some queries to begin to analyze where your database may be “weak.” Next, you should develop a set of reports that show how the data elements you need to focus on are being monitored and managed. For example: What’s the contactable rate of living individuals in your list? Contactable rate might be those records with a…
By admin on 9/20/2012
Some of the Main Steps in Leveraging Big Data Access Access needs to be delegated throughout the organization and maintained. If you have an email marketing provider, do the right people have access to be able to download the click-through results and load into your CRM system? Your SAAS (Software As A Service) applications need to be integrated so that data is pulled automatically and loaded. There are some appliances and software that can help with this. Your ETL (extract, transform, load) tool should be robust enough to utilize SAAS processes directly so you don’t waste time on intermediate steps that take expensive staff time. Standards should be developed. Example: If you’re working with multiple telemarketing vendors, you should insist that the data returned from all of your vendors should adhere to your formats and definitions. This makes it a lot easier for you to integrate and manage the data you’re receiving. Discover You need to simplify the data discovery as you get more and more data sources. The key is to have structured entity relationships. Discovery should include a pre-load and profiling analysis before you load into your system. It’s not fun to do one-off data migrations and discovery is key to understanding what you’re getting and to design a process that’s systematic and repeatable….
By admin on 9/6/2012
I’ve often talked about how the complexity of our fundraising databases has changed over the years. We used to just collect names and addresses. We then added prospect management, cell phones and emails. We now have online behavior from our online communities and social media. A lot of our data is unstructured – such as what is typically contained in notes fields. Do we consider fundraising data “big data”? I believe it’s a critical inflexion point for us, especially as historically disparate systems have tended to become more integrated through reporting environments such as data warehouses. Our data seems to be growing more rapidly than ever and we need to take advantage and capitalize on some of the same techniques that “very big data” organizations have been employing. To me, the term big data is really a reflection of our environment. The “cradle to grave” relationship with donors has to integrate a complex data model that essentially emulates the random nature of human existence and relationships. Not an easy task to collect and manage. Not an easy task to analyze and develop metrics….
By admin on 7/22/2012
What is discovery and how it is accomplished? It’s easy to understand the business processes involved in fundraising and how they are used to maximize fundraising – especially on the face to face fundraising front. A “large purchase” requires a significant degree of interaction with a person. We like our fundraisers to talk to other people. Most of us track this in some fashion and have some basic metrics in place. The science of identification focuses on which people are likely and have the capacity to give us money. The challenge is to determine what happens “in between” the various stages. How do we filter the list down to those individuals where we have a workable number that we can actually visit? At the macro level surveying, marketing studies and giving histories can do the initial filtering. Analytics have greatly enhanced the piece by adding elements of predictability into our scoring and database systems so at a minimum we have segments of people that we can target our activities. What does a personal…


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