Our team helps thousands of families each year stay housed, and each time they assist a family data is entered into our client tracking system. Information like family demographics, income, family size, zip code, services rendered, and more are tracked and recorded internally. As a member of the fundraising team, I often use this data in messages to donors and supporters to show off the amazing work our staff is doing. Luckily, there are many different types of data at my disposal, and depending on my message, many different ways that a data point can act as support. I separate these data points into two main categories: “snapshots” and “results.”
“Snapshots” are basic demographic information, income levels, marital status, age, gender, and family type. This data gives donors the sense of what kinds of individuals we are helping and what kinds of services they are investing in. For example, around Memorial Day we might craft a message thanking active and former military for their service while showing that 10% of our clients are veterans. For our Spring Appeal campaign we might show that 5,121 individuals attended housing counseling workshops.
“Results” are data points that reflect our impact on clients and the changes we made. For example the rate of homeless recidivism for clients or the amount of tax refunds distributed to individuals. We may also tell donors how many families were moved out of shelter and into permanent housing. While these numbers still reflect individuals, they reflect accomplishments of our organization. Our development department sees the proof of our organization’s accomplishments as a more persuasive message to donors.
Each time we sit down to craft a message to donors and supporters, either on social media, email, snail mail, or on our website, we think about our data and which stories we will tell. The data we use will have to support the message, and the message we create will have to be made stronger because of the data we use.
Sander Randall from Nazareth Housing