Data Mining for Fundraisers

I know, I know… it sounds like you’re in for a boring post. ‘Feeding your brand manager to the lions’… now that would be a good title for a post! But alas, ‘data mining for fundraisers’ it is. Why? It’s the name of a book I just finished reading. Well, actually it’s the short name. The full title is: Data Mining for Fund Raisers: How to Use Simple Statistics to Find Gold in Your Donor Database-Even if You Hate Statistics‘ written by Peter B. Wylie.

It is a fantastic book and here’s why.

  1. It’s short. Who wants to read a tome on data mining in the hope that it will enhance your Organisation’s fundraising. This book is under 100 pages and in my opinion, teaches far more than many books do which are four times the size.
  2. There’s not an RFM, LTV, LYBUNT in sight. Well, there may be the occasional reference to such things… but for the most part this book is about data mining. This book is about finding donors in your database who will end up with a brilliant RFM score long before they have one.
  3. It’s practical. This isn’t a text book. It’s more like a tutorial. The chapters are even called ‘step 2, step 3…’. It is a book designed to be put into practice.
  4. The author is a pragmatist. When you get to the part of ‘significance’, he tells you that you can run a chi-square test, or run the ‘wow, look at that difference style test’. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to read a book written by someone with over 35 years of statistical experience telling me that it was ok to skip the significance testing and go with the ‘gasp, isn’t that a brilliant difference’ style approach.
  5. There’s nothing new here. This may sound like a strange ‘plus’. Let me try to explain. This book is consistent with so much of what I have read and done over the years in my roles which was very comforting. I didn’t go to ‘data monkey training school’. Sometimes I think I should have more of a background in statistics or IT to do the work that I do. Yet the idea of either bores me to death and I have clung to experiences where I’ve come across someone with those qualifications who, at the end of the day, was quite ineffective. Reading this book assured me that a qualification in stats is not essential. This showed me I’ve been on the right track, filled in a few of the missing pieces and gave me a structure for building a predictive model.

So I say to Mr Peter B Wylie – thank you! A handy little book that I will revisit time and time again.


Posted on September 26, 2011, in Data, Direct Mail, Fundraising, Major Donors, Not for Profit and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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