Tag Archives: Knowledge management

The Knowledge Driven Charity Behoves Donor-Centric Fundraising

temples baganDonor-centric fundraising is all the rage. It makes a great deal of sense. Know who your donors are and why they are motivated to support a charity; ensure their gifts are allocated as requested; do the appropriate stewardship to show the charity understands their giving goals with supporting information. The final piece is the donor’s interest in how the charity runs. Is it efficient? Does it use its time and resources effectively? Is it able to meet its funding goals and are donor dollars well used?

We think this sounds wonderful until we look into how the charity is functioning at a more in depth level. Experience has shown us that many charities use their donor management system for receipting and usually this is tasked to a single individual. Fund development staff is often several steps away from any meaningful interaction with the data other than report requests.

This begs the question, how does a charity employ a donor centric approach to working with its donors under these conditions? A further observation has to do with staff turnover and the effect on information retention, pertaining to interactions with donors which would be used for future fundraising and stewardship support.

Running a charity begins at the top. It is incumbent on senior management to employ a methodology that ensures the best possible care of all types of information a charity needs to support a donor-centric approach to its valued donors. People can and do give their money anywhere they choose to, so what is the best way to influence donors and ensure their interest remains strongly attached to a specific charity? What would you like donors to know about how the charity functions in support of both its goals and those who support them?

Let’s begin with the Knowledge Driven Charity.  First and foremost it will address the capture of important data.  Standards exist which include everything from how to search to ensure a donor record is new to prevent duplication, to how the information is recorded to give maximum benefit to the donor and a fundraising team. Next is the gift and where it is positioned to show donor support. Values like ‘designated’ in the fund field provide little information, so how can the data recorded by appeal or campaign, be entered for maximum effect? This pertains not only to the charity but for the donor as well.

How charity staff work is equally important to a Knowledge Driven Charity. Taking too long to perform a task, being unable to access reports, not knowing how to pull a reasonable export, these are a result of training or the lack thereof. The idea training is expensive is a misconception. What is expensive is guessing how things work and making poor decisions on how to achieve work with charity data.

The Knowledge Driven Charity documents a non-profits’ best practices, describing for staff how to perform jobs recorded in easy to follow and maintain, point form. There is skilled labour in this marketplace so why let these skills leave without an appropriate capture. The time saved by staff and the recognition gained those by those who share their knowledge is of great value to an organization whether for profit or not.

Here’s an example. An engineer firm sent out field managers to check certain aspects of their jobs. One such manager had a check list. He used this list before every trip to ensure he had all the right tools to do whatever was necessary. The other field operatives did not and subsequently wasted company time with trips back and forth to the office to pick up what they forgot.  The solution was simple, the check list was now a company resource and the expectation was that all field managers used it to ensure no more unneeded trips, wasted time and more importantly unneeded cost. In the world of a charity, this might be a word processing skill or who to create a report or how to properly build an in memory campaign. Time is expensive and when it is wasted there is a consequence which impacts productive actions sidelined by waste.

Naysayers will tell you a knowledge approach would be difficult to implement, hard to maintain, too costly for a charity to consider. Our position is that it is not difficult because staff members become the champions of an improved workplace as stress is reduced and productivity soars.  A culture of Plan First is the rally cry. Time is freed up and accountability sets in as ones actions will affect another. ‘Too costly’ is what the charity is currently experiencing through costs associated with busy time.

Write these new methods into the documents that define the charity. Include in all job descriptions specific requirements with consequences to address any laxness that undermines the team.

Implement the Knowledge Driven Charity. Identify the charity’s commitment and share it with donors and funders. Be prepared for the Reaction and for the Results!

Order: How to Save your Sanity in a Fund Development Department

 Order is valued in a working environment. It empowers those who work in it. Lack of order creates chaos and wastes resources. The resources we speak of are human, financial and time.

There is a cost to the lack of order.  Things which are difficult to find, jobs that should be easy but take vast amounts of time erode morale and add a financial burden.   Order and business rules go a long way to making a working environment efficient and staff time effective.  It is just the beginning as other requirements will turn up later in the project.

The KMS will be the repository for many things the charity will want to retain.  Evaluating the use of the KMS and its content will be a job that is performed periodically by management and staff.

The project’s goal was to eliminate time wasters and let the client find what they need, when they need it by implementing a system that supports order.

Re-organizing how information is stored on the client’s network is step one. The 15 second rule is something we have introduced.  If you can’t find what you are looking for in 15 seconds, someone didn’t take the time to save it properly. This mindset enables staff members to make adjustments to improve a situation. Aha! Continuous improvement, a concept that has lost favour amongst all the new management theories, has raised its head.

One of the key methods to establishing order is creating a set of common folders on the client’s computer network, The main folder is referred to as the KMS with all related folders set up as its subfolders.  KMS stands for Knowledge Management System.

The overall structure is flat with few reasons for creating further sub folders.  There are two main folders that require further subfolders; these include donor communications and grant proposals. For all other areas, we created one level of folders enabling access to all electronic tools used by the charity. The toolset includes merge documents, instruction sets, presentations, sponsorship packages and more.

The benefits of the KMS are many.  KMS use must be mandated from senior management down. Adherence to the principle being this is the one and only source for business building tools is fundamental to maintaining order. No longer will stashes of electronic files be allowed when they should be saved in the KMS.

What are the benefits?  Here are a few:

  1.  Control and Continuity: Processes and tools acceptable to the charity are available to all staff.
  2. Cost: Once created an electronic tool can be reused many times over.  The initial cost of development is spread across the number of times it is used.
  3. Time: If staff can find what they need (the 15 second rule) without an endless search, the cost of staff time in locating what they require is insignificant.  The outcome is more time to do what impacts the bottom-line.
  4.  Morale: There is nothing more demoralizing than working in a disorganized environment.
  5. Capture Knowledge:  Recording how jobs are performed develops best practices. How staff perform jobs or improve them can be recorded for the benefit of all others in the organization.
  6. Shareable: A shareable resource is being built with multiple contributions giving employees credit for the value and often time saving suggestions they make.
  7. Brand or Image:  What goes out for public consumption brands a charity. Communications of all types are a reflection of the organization.  The page formats, fonts and messages need to be managed.  With only one copy of a document available for multiple users, the charity prevents creative outputs by well-meaning staff.
  8. Training: A training environment is created for new staff.  It’s no longer “do the job as you wish”, rather the mantra is “this is how we work at our charity”.  They have all the KMS resources at their fingertips to ensure continuity and consistency.  New staff members are quickly raised to a level of performance valuable to the charity.
  9. Conformance:  New or existing staff can be identified for further training.  If training does not address the problem, other actions can be taken.

The Bottom Line

Order and business rules of engagement go a long way to making a working environment efficient and staff time effective.  This is not the end of what we might need, it establishes a start, as other requirements will turn up later in the project.

The KMS will be the focal point of many things the charity will want to retain.  Evaluating the use of the KMS and its content will be a job that is addressed periodically by management and staff.