CoolData blog

11 January 2018

The lopsided nature of alumni giving (Part Two)

Filed under: Alumni, Major Giving, Peter Wylie — kevinmacdonell @ 5:47 am

 

A few years ago, Peter Wylie wrote a piece for CoolData on the well-known phenomenon of a very small group of alumni donors being responsible for a hugely disproportionate share of an institution’s revenue from philanthropic giving. If you include all living alumni who haven’t given at all, the disproportion becomes extreme.

 

It’s time to scratch below the surface of this well-known fact, which Peter does here in Lopsided Nature of Alumni Giving Part 2. (Click to download PDF.)

 

In the original paper, and this new paper, Peter poses a series of questions our sector ought to be asking when confronted with this data. The answers may have profound implications for how we fundraise. However, the answers are not obvious, and require scientific investigation. That investigation, of a rigorous type that requires funding, is simply not happening.

 

Peter’s new piece follows directly from the original paper, so it’s helpful to read (or re-read) Part 1 in advance. For that reason, we’ve rolled parts one and two into a single download.

 

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23 February 2017

Proceeds from sales of “Score!” to be donated to ACLU

Filed under: Book, Peter Wylie, Score! — Tags: , — kevinmacdonell @ 9:09 pm

 

Peter Wylie and I are pleased to tell you that all our current and future royalties from sales of the book “Score!: Data-Driven Success for Your Advancement Team” will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

A good seller since it came out a couple of years ago, “Score!” is available for order online, in both print and e-book versions. (Click here to enter the CASE book store.)

 

Each year around late August, I am delighted to see that cheque in my mail from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. (Peter of course gets his cheque at the same time, only he spells it “check”.) The next cheque (or check) we receive will be our third. We never know how sales have gone for the year until we get paid; since “Score!” continues to be featured prominently in the CASE catalogue, and people continue to click through this blog to the CASE bookstore every day, we have reason to think sales are still healthy.

 

A good opportunity, then, to extend our little book’s modest influence in a positive direction in these strange times. The ACLU works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. As you may know, I live in Canada, but I recognize that holding the current administration to account is in everyone’s interest.

 

If you’ve been meaning to get a copy and just needed that extra reason to act, click here order online. Or, even better, consider making a contribution directly to the ACLU or whatever organization you feel is best positioned to undo the poison of xenophobia in your community, region, or country.

 

31 January 2017

Are we missing too many alumni with web surveys? (Part 2)

Filed under: Alumni, John Sammis, Peter Wylie, Surveying — Tags: , — kevinmacdonell @ 6:22 am

Guest post by Peter B. Wylie, with John Sammis

 

Download a printable PDF version of this paper: Are We Missing Too Many Alumni P2.

 

It seems everyone we know, no matter how young or old, has an email address or uses Facebook. So we might assume that nowadays online surveys will reliably deliver a representative sampling of a school’s alumni population.

 
 

In this guest post, Peter Wylie and John Sammis demonstrate that alumni available and willing to be polled online differ from non-online constituents in potentially significant ways. Although current practice tends towards online-only surveying, the evidence suggests this probably skews the conclusions we can draw about our constituencies, with key differences that go well beyond just age.

 
 

(This is “part 2” of an earlier piece. To download the first paper, click here: Are We Missing Too Many Alumni With Web Surveys?)

 
 

Again, the link for Part 2:  Are We Missing Too Many Alumni P2.

 
 

5 July 2016

A simple score you can probably build in Excel

Filed under: Excel, Peter Wylie, Predictive scores — Tags: , , , — kevinmacdonell @ 4:22 pm

Guest post by Peter B. Wylie

 

In the evolving world of analysis for higher ed and non-profits, it’s apparent that a gap is widening: Many well-resourced shops are acquiring analytics talent comfortable with statistics and programming, but many others are unable to make investments in specialized talent.

 

Today’s guest post is a paper by Peter Wylie that addresses the latter group, the ones at risk of being left behind. Download his paper here: Simple_Score_in_Excel_Wylie

 

In this piece he uses data from two schools to show you something you can try with your own data, building a very simple predictive score using nothing but Excel.

 

Some level of data analysis ought to be accessible at some level to every organization, regardless of technical proficiency or tools. And in fact, shops that move too quickly to automate predictive scoring with black-box-like methods risk passing over the insights available to the exploratory analyst using more manual, time-consuming methods.

 

We hope you enjoy, and above all, that you try this with your own data. The download link again: Simple_Score_in_Excel_Wylie

 

1 February 2016

Regular-season passing yardage and the NFL playoffs

Filed under: Analytics, Fun, John Sammis, Off on a tangent, Peter Wylie — Tags: , , , , — kevinmacdonell @ 7:37 pm

Guest post by Peter B. Wylie, with John Sammis

 

How much is regular-season passing yardage related to success in the NFL playoffs? (Click link to download .PDF: Passing yardage in the NFL.)

 

Peter was really interested in finding out how strong the relationship might be between an NFL team’s passing during the regular season and its performance in the playoffs. There’s been plenty of talk about this relationship, but he wanted to see for himself.

 

A bit of a departure for CoolData, but still all about data and analysis … hope you enjoy!

 

9 October 2015

Ready for a sobering look at your last five years of alumni giving?

Guest post by Peter B. Wylie and John Sammis

  

Download this discussion paper here: Sobering Look at last 5 fiscal years of alumni giving

 

My good friends Wylie and Sammis are at it again, digging into the data to ask some hard questions.

 

This time, their analysis shines a light on a concerning fact about higher education fundraising: A small group of donors from the past are responsible for the lion’s share of recent giving.

 

My first reaction on reading this paper was, well, that looks about right. A school’s best current donors have probably been donors for quite some time, and alumni participation is in decline all over North America. So?

 

The “so” is that we talk about new donor acquisition but are we really investing in it? Do we have any clue who’s going to replace those donors from the past and address the fact that our fundraising programs are leaky boats taking on water? Is there a future in focusing nearly exclusively on current loyal donors? (Answer: Sure, if loyal donors are immortal.)

 

A good start would be for you to get a handle on the situation at your institution by looking at your data as Wylie and Sammis have done for the schools in their discussion paper. Download it here: Sobering Look at last 5 fiscal years of alumni giving.

 

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