Fighting Chronic Global Poverty with Data Science
Outreach International facilitates community-led development to sustainably address global poverty-related issues. Currently working in 10 countries, Outreach International provides a structure for community members to collectively identify, prioritize and collaborate on long-term solutions to the issues they face.
Evolytics partnered with Outreach International on an initiative to integrate, automate, and activate fundraising data to enable more informed and effective outreach decisions, grow revenue streams, and amplify the organization’s reach into more communities around the world. Together, we developed data-driven solutions that will make Outreach International more efficient and strategic in its fight against the challenges of chronic poverty.
During the process of developing a strategic plan, Outreach International staff recognized that a more efficient approach to managing data would benefit all areas of the organization, especially related to improving returns on fundraising and marketing investments. Data collection was not a problem as there was plenty of data to analyze but accessing that data and updating the existing reporting with the new data required a lot of manual, time intensive work.
The data obstacles Outreach International faced became even more pronounced during the busy annual “giving season”—October through December—when staff manage a range of intensive fundraising activities and campaigns. Stretched thin, they needed quick access to information about revenue, expenses, audience segmentation, donor profiles, and campaign performance. However, the arduous task of retrieving these data points included exporting from multiple sources, then compiling reports into a spreadsheet by hand.
Outreach International needed better information, and faster, so staff could spend more time on pursuing the organization’s mission. They also knew that fundraising efforts would benefit from advanced knowledge about their current donor base and learn more about potential donor groups.
Outreach International partnered with Evolytics on the development of a dashboard of integrated information, and a donor intelligence solution. Evolytics begins its engagements with a series of stakeholder interviews during which a client’s needs are identified and brought into sharper focus. Sessions with Outreach International staff were particularly collaborative and active, fueled by a passion for their work and an excitement for the potential of how a new, data-driven approach could further their mission and reach of services.
Key themes emerged from these discussions, including several business questions the dashboard should answer. In addition to year-over-year data, they also wanted to dig deeper into donor demographics and behavior, donor retention and acquisition trends, and ways to measure the ROI of marketing campaigns.
To answer Outreach International’s complex business questions, Evolytics first developed a Recency, Frequency, and Monetary (RFM) model that measures segmentations to create multi-dimensional donor profiles. The RFM model works by assigning donors scores according to recency: the latest donation by donor; frequency: the rate at which recurring donors give; and monetary: the sum of “lifetime giving” per donor.
Once scores are assigned for these three metrics, segments are defined by a single RFM score associated with one of four possible groups—each with its own donation patterns and behaviors. This tells staff where to focus fundraising efforts based on how much a donor is likely to give and when or how often they’re likely to give.
“The RFM model gives us a brand-new, data-rich way to group donors for campaigns and appeals. These segmentations offer new opportunities to customize communications, and hopefully yield more results! Results matter when you’re in the business of changing lives.”— Charlotte Belshe, Senior Director of Marketing, Outreach International
Next, Evolytics built Outreach International a PowerBI dashboard fueled by donor data, that provides key insights and identifies fundraising trends. Leveraging this information in one central dashboard enables Outreach International to make proactive, data-driven fundraising and marketing decisions, and improve efficiency across the organization. The dashboard also lets staff quickly compare performance between different campaigns, and gain detailed donor pyramid insights, such as how many donors are giving at any given time, and at various giving levels.
“The time savings this will provide is huge. We’ll open the dashboard, hit refresh, and see the reality of our fundraising situation, or campaign performance in one place. We can now spend more time executing campaigns and ideas instead of always searching for information.”— Charlotte Belshe, Senior Director of Marketing, Outreach International
Outreach International estimates that the Power BI dashboard and the RFM model data could make a ~4.5 percent impact on total annual revenue. This amount of funds represents the equivalent of supporting two entire program locations (countries) for one full year, or 3,500 people empowered through the Outreach mission in its communities each year. The impact of this effort should become evident in outcomes of Outreach International’s mission—an increase in the number of individuals who will receive the support they need to address issues of poverty and its compounding effects year after year.
Internally, work completed through the Outreach International-Evolytics partnership will result in improved marketing efficiency (spending fewer marketing dollars, while reaching donors with a more meaningful return on investment), increased fundraising, and strengthened decision making power for Outreach leadership, marketing, and donor services teams. New access to real-time data, rather than quarterly static reports, will benefit fundraising outcomes, improve donor cultivation, and increase availability of staff time for more value-add activities (instead of updating static reports).
Information provided by the dashboard and RFM model will enable Outreach International to set more clear and intentional organization-level strategic goals around revenue and influence. Finally, this initiative should result in a sustained revenue impact with the enhanced ability to attract new donors, increase donor retention rates and the recurring giving of existing donors. The average lifetime donor value resulting from the RFM model and PowerBI dashboard is also expected to rise.
From Evolytics’ perspective, it’s been a meaningful experience to partner with Outreach International to support its digital transformation, using data and analytics to make a positive difference for those working to alleviate poverty around the world.
“Overall, the partnership between our organizations will have a meaningful and sustained impact on Outreach’s success, and an even more meaningful impact on the lives of the people in our communities abroad. We’ve appreciated the journey with Evolytics so far and hope to continue the partnership!”Nikki Caw, Chief Financial Officer, Outreach International