The Tao of Data


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Most people approach fundraising software as if the most important aspect is getting the data into the system. This is less than half the story. Your data is only as good as the output it enables you to create. If you can't generate output, your data is not working.

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The Tao of Data

  1. 1. The Tao of Data Cheri Weissman March 6, 2012A Service Of: Sponsored by:
  2. 2. Protecting and Preserving the Institutional Memories of Nonprofits Since 1993 (866) 598-0430 info@cjwconsulting.comA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  3. 3. Affordable collaborative data management in the cloud.A Service Of: Sponsored by:
  4. 4. Today’s Speaker & Host Cheryl J Weissman President CJW Consulting & Services, Inc.Assisting with chat questions:April Hunt, Nonprofit WebinarsA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  5. 5. The Tao of Data ManagementThe care, feeding and productive use of information Presented by Cheri Weissman 8331 Central Avenue Morton Grove, IL 60053 866/598-0430
  6. 6. CJW Consulting & Services, Inc. Earning the trust of the nonprofit community since 1993You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. Woodrow Wilson
  7. 7. CJW FocusOur work is about memory: We help organizations create,maintain and use data as institutional memory.Elie Wiesel said, “Forgetting means the end of civilization, theend of culture, the end of generosity, the end of compassion, theend of humanity.”Nonprofits work to protect and preserve culture, compassion,humanity. Nonprofits rely on generosity. We cannot forget.
  8. 8. What should data do for me? Serve as your Institutional Memory  In an ideal world, you want ONE location that everyone has access to as the “Go To” spot to find any piece of information about any constituent.  You cannot rely on data scattered in numerous places  Common access to data allows for “one version of the truth”
  9. 9. Pivotal Reality Your data entry choices, along with the capabilities of the software, will have a major impact on your ability to define groups or segments Your ability to define groups or segments, along with the capabilities of the software, will have a major impact on your ability to output information
  10. 10. What’s data really about? One Word: OUTPUT  Solicitations  Board reports  Volunteer applications  Moves management tracking  Volunteer schedules  Event response reports  Prospect profiles
  11. 11. EXAMPLE You are responsible for creating and maintaining a roster for the board of directors, which must include  Name of board member  Business and home address/phone/email  Name of board member’s assistant and phone/email  Date member joined board  Committees on which member serves
  12. 12. EXAMPLE You are asked to design a financial report that lists donors of $1000 or more to the annual fund. Information needed:  Name/address/phone of donor  Date, amount, type and payment method of gift(s)  Designation identified by donor (where the money can be spent)
  13. 13. What’s data really about? Two Words: DEFINING GROUPS  Who gets solicited  Who gets invited to an event  Which volunteers can do the job  Who CANNOT be contacted
  14. 14. EXAMPLE You are generating a mailing list for an annual fund appeal. You want to be able to include the following segments:  Major donors  Current annual fund donors  Board, Staff and Volunteers  Donors of the verge of lapsing  Attendees at a recent event
  15. 15. How do I get there? Focus on quality input (entering data)  Define and document data entry standards  Implement processes for regular data checks  Get staff the resources they need  Training  Cheat sheets
  16. 16. Pitfalls To Avoid Entering data needed for output that can’t be exported correctly Entering data for the sake of entering data  Every piece of information recorded should be relevant, necessary in some way, accurate and current Experimentation with data in your live database Insufficient communication
  17. 17. Pitfalls To Avoid Creating data values that do not serve your output needs Ignoring output formats/procedures when entering data Inconsistent data entry Multiple-use fields Failure to document data entry/management processes!
  18. 18. Data Management Standards How are names entered Address standards Addressee/Salutation values Gift entry Output procedures Mailings Reports
  19. 19. How do I start? If you have individual documents that cover specific functions or policies  Collect all such documents into one folder  Print out each document  Review carefully for accuracy and effectiveness  Organize and compile information into one document  Add necessary information
  20. 20. How do I start? If you are starting from scratch  Steps  Write Overview  List any Prerequisites  Describe the Steps in intimate detail
  21. 21. Describe the steps Using a precise, step-by-step approach, walk your reader through the process. Make sure your reader can reproduce your intended result by following your exact steps. Make the learning process efficient by supplying samples or details as necessary. Always write for the lowest common denominator – the person who knows nothing! Use examples
  22. 22. Describing the steps Remember – write for the person who knows nothing! Walk through a process yourself  Write down everything you do  Keystrokes  Menus accessed and selections made  Decisions made  Document the process  Test yourself – repeat using your documentation
  23. 23. Inform the user Documenting steps and keystrokes is enough for certain types of users. Keep in mind, however, that some readers will assimilate information better if they see it in context.  Provide reasons for things being done as they are  Remember that you are documenting standards, not just data entry
  24. 24. Don’t make it a treasure hunt Documentation is more likely to be used if it is easy to use. It is usually more effective to repeat information rather than to compel readers to hunt for it  For example, if you are documenting standards for address entry, copy the standards wherever in the documentation address entry is included.
  25. 25. Organize! Create a natural flow for the content Include a Table of Contents and Appendix  Glossary of terms can also be useful
  26. 26. Know when to say when Sometimes the hardest part about documenting something is knowing when enough has been said. Too much explanation can cause the reader to lose focus.
  27. 27. Resources Software manual  Can help clarify  Fills in blanks TechSoup Google  Searching for “how to write software documentation” returned over 6 million hits
  28. 28. CJW Contact Information Office Phone 866/598-0430 Please contact me to:  Receive sample copies of documentation  Address any questions not answered today
  29. 29. Find listings for our current season of webinars and register at: NonprofitWebinars.comA Service Of: Sponsored by: