Chapter 1. Essentials of a Data-Informed Fraternity


Data-Informed fundraising’s definition

What is data-informed fundraising?

The term “data-driven” is thrown around a lot. “Data-driven” very well could be the buzzword of the year, but it often has a myopic approach. Being Data-Driven is great, but being Data-informed is a wiser approach. We see many for-profit industries out there using the ‘Data-Informed’ and seeing massive success!

What does it mean to be data-informed in the greek space?

Data-informed means that you use data alongside your unique member experience, donor research, and other inputs to make decisions. With a data-informed approach, data is just one part of your decision-making process.

Data-informed means that you use data alongside your unique member experience, donor research, and other inputs to make decisions. With a data-informed approach, data is just one part of your decision-making process.

Let’s take the same example we just used above. Campaign A and B have been running for a week, but since your donor cycle is 90-days long, you can’t use CAC to evaluate your ad performance. It would simply take too long.

In that case, you decide to use the click-through rate (CTR) to evaluate performance. Campaign A has a CTR of 5.65%, and Campaign B has a CTR of 4.47%. If you were using a data-driven approach, you’d turn off Campaign B because of the lower CTR. But since you’re now using a data-informed approach, you look at the bigger picture.

As it turns out, even though Campaign A has a higher CTR, it also has a higher cost-per-click (CPC). If you continue to run that campaign, you’ll burn through your budget much more quickly. You also know from your past experience that the CTRs of both ads are higher than your average performance, which means you’ll have better than average performance regardless of which ad you choose.

In your data-informed approach, you turn off campaign A because you took other components into consideration and want to use your budget as effectively as possible.

Data-informed fundraising is simply the application of evidence-based practice (EBP) in the fundraising field. Evidence-based practice is characterized by three core components:

  • Having a question about something (Will thank-you emails boost donations?)
  • Testing that something (Send out thank-you emails.)
  • Recording and measuring the results of that test (Did donations go up as a result of the thank-you emails? If yes, who are these members that actually responded to those emails? Can we learn anything from this observed phenomenon and feed into our next campaigns?)

In a nutshell, Data-informed fundraising is simply fundraising that is compelled by data and intuition to learn and improve upon current fundraising strategy

Building data-informed culture

With our definition in mind, it becomes clear why organizational culture is such an important component of a successful data-informed fundraising strategy. Organizations, no matter their size, mission or vision, are driven by their culture.

In order for data-informed practices to take place, you need a culture that encourages questioning, learning, brainstorming fresh ideas from knowledge extracted from data.

If you are serious about adopting a more data-informed culture, then acknowledging your organization’s existing culture and focusing on its strengths is a good place to start. Next, be prepared to make small, incremental progress in developing a new culture. Not everyone will be on board with adopting a data-informed mindset. Find champions within your team that are early adopters and engage them. Finally, make sure your data-informed mindset aligns with the strategy of the organization. Without alignment, it’s like running into a meeting proclaiming the immediate need for Facebook advertising to boost acquisition when everyone is focused on tightening up your leaky bucket (donor retention).

Acknowledgement, learning , incremental change and alignment, focus on these four components first.

Data-Informed basics

With our organization culture in mind, it’s a good time to address a few basic data-informed principles. What are some basic questions that you should have answered? And, what are some simple ways to start getting organized, measured and analytical? I’m glad you asked!

The Ekta Team has come up with six questions and metrics that are good places to start:

  1. What is our annual rate of growth?
  2. Whats our donor vs non donor(prospect) breakdown?
  3. What intelligent segments can we build from those member groups?
  4. Do our current campaigns align with these intelligent segments? If so how can we optimize our content to provide the maximum value to those groups?
  5. What is our annual average gift size?
  6. How much does a donor donate over the lifetime of thier giving?

Hopefully you are starting to think to yourself about how having answers to these three questions would help guide your organization’s strategy.If average gift size has been on the decline for the past three years, maybe it is time to invest some money in upgrading donors. If you have high quality non donor prospects who have opted out of email communications, what other mediums can be explored to get them involved with the fraternity? 

These questions are simple, but their implications are significant. Part of becoming a data-informed fraternity is learning from the  information  available and really looking at the big picture. You’ll want to spend your time strategizing and analyzing, not crunching numbers and making excel spreadsheets. Begin with these basic metrics and you should be off to a solid start.

Applying this to your Fraternity


Have a question? Test it. Measure what happened. Use your experience and intuition to craft the perfect plan of attack! Writing it out takes a mere 13 words to do. But implementing the concept is undoubtedly more difficult.

So, like we discussed above, start with culture. Share this article with a colleague in the office. Start to have the discussion about metrics at your next meeting. Engage early adopters internally and get their support. Culture is slow to adapt and change (which can be a good and bad thing), but share these ideas and eventually something will stick. Or you could always contact us to help you brainstorm some ideas. We offer a free ‘concepting’ session to all who want to spend some time and understand the process of being a data-informed fraternity

Next, do some research on the infrastructure. You don’t want to spend days or weeks measuring and calculating metrics, you want to spend that time thinking strategically about the results of your test. Look into tools that can help you do this more efficiently and easily.

And finally, start small. Segmentation, Growth rates, donation amounts and lifetime value are a great place to start. Look at those metrics, answer those questions and slowly but surely, compel your colleagues and staff to take a look too. Dive even slightly deeper and calculate your donor retention rate, share that metric with your Executive Director. Discuss the potential need for employing steps to retain donors such as developing a welcome series of email or letters sent to first-time donors.

Remember, this is part 1 of 4 in our Data-Informed Fraternity’s Reference Guide! Wondering where to start? No worries, we got you covered! We have created an exhibit for you all to check out and have a good idea of where to begin. Get it here

Key takeaways

  • Data-informed means that you use data alongside your unique member experience, donor research, and other inputs to make decisions. With a data-informed approach, data is just one part of your decision-making process.
  • You need an organizational culture that endorses questioning, learning, testing, measuring and applying. And, at the same time you need the people, tools and resources to actually be able to do that effectively. Do your best to bring culture and infrastructure together at the same time.
  • Start small. When following the evidence based practices outlined above, question practical, easy to grasp things. Answer questions that your co-workers will comprehend. Present things in simple, visual ways.

Ekta Flow LLC provides partial or full-service IT managed services and Data Science solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. Concerned and need advice on building a robust environment for your business? Book a free session and learn how we can help

To learn more about Ekta, The Ekta Way, or health care interoperability, contact or visit our website,

About Ekta

Ekta is a unique hybrid of energetic, creative, and experienced tech-lovers. This blend makes it possible for us to understand and connect your vision with the right tools, which is the heart of our success.

We are here to understand you and your mission and put technology to work for that aim. Whether it’s getting a hold of your data, cybersecurity, product development, systems engineering, or artificial intelligence, our team can help you put the right tools in place. 

Talish Barmare

Talish Barmare


Ekta is a Chicago-based company providing custom technology consulting and software development services.



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