Hello, and welcome to 2020! I’m a little late in welcoming everyone here to the new decade, but I wanted to reflect a little on 2019, look forward to 2020 and give our users and audience a look at what we’re thinking about here at CharityCAN.
Trying new things
We spent quite a bit of time working behind the scenes here at CharityCAN in 2019, culminating in the launch of our new donor screening product. It’s been the first new product we’ve launched here at CharityCAN in quite some time, and definitely the first new product with me in the role of CEO. Launching anything new is hard, but I’m really proud of what our team has been able to accomplish.
We also kicked off another pilot project near the end of 2019 to integrate CharityCAN with Raiser’s Edge NXT. The project, whose first phase is nearing completion this month, is our first foray into the world of CRM (constituent relationship management) software, with a goal of making CharityCAN data more accessible wherever you need it.
These two projects took a lot of our software development time, and I’m excited to start seeing the returns of our work in 2020 when we start getting these new features into the hands of our users.
In non-software projects, in 2019 we also hosted our first online webinars, which we hope to continue to do on a quarterly basis to keep everyone updated on the newest features here at CharityCAN.
Refining other features
Because we did a lot of work behind the scenes doesn’t mean we ignored the CharityCAN platform entirely, however! In 2019 we launched the ability to create your own custom relationship maps, so you can leverage the connections your organization has that aren’t in the public domain.
We also added some more CRM-like functionality of our own, allowing you to create notes on prospect profiles and to save companies and charities of interest to your prospect profiles page. We also have the ability to create a list of favourite profiles to use in relationship path searches, and the ability to easily merge and edit prospect profiles, instantly updating your relationship graph in the process.
As I mentioned earlier, one of our first priorities in 2020 is getting some of the work we did in 2019 out the door and into the hands of our customers. Besides donor screening and our RE NXT integration, we have a couple features waiting in the wings!
For the rest of 2020, we’re going to be taking a very close look at the CharityCAN platform. We’ll be examining the data we already have there to try to find new connections we might be able to make between various data points. Then we want to discover the best ways to present that data and get it into the hands of our users. We want to make sure we’re able to give Canadian prospect researchers the data they want, how they want it, in the most user-friendly way possible – whether it’s through a donation record search, inside their CRM, or maybe even pushed to them in a recommended list of prospects.
I’m excited to see what 2020 and the rest of this decade will bring for CharityCAN and Canadian prospect research. Happy New Year and happy searching!
One of our CharityCAN subscribers is a researcher at a major Ontario arts organization, and earlier this spring she was given a task by her team’s gift officers: find ways to personally connect with current patrons that did not yet have an established relationship with the organization.
As she put it, “As is true for many not-for-profit organizations, our fundraising efforts can only be successful when we develop strong and respectful relationships with our donors.” Armed with a list of almost 175 prospects prepared by her gift officers, she set out to find people associated with her organization who could be liaisons to these prospective donors and encourage the building of relationships with them.
Her first task was to identify the members of the organization’s board and senate, plus a few other advocates – minus any inactive or deceased board members – and then create prospect profiles for those advocates and the list of prospects within CharityCAN.
“It took a couple of days to create the prospect profiles” she said, “but it was worth the work [to ensure] that all possible connections for each of our organization and patron contacts were explored.” She also noted that “creating the prospect profiles also helped to clarify which contacts actually had viable connections to explore.”
"It's a huge help knowing which board/senate members are connected to these prospects"
Once the profiles were created, she used CharityCAN’s relationship path search to find connections between patrons and organization contacts. In total, she was able to find 150 direct connections to 64 patrons and over 7,000 indirect connections to 102 patrons, and then create the final reports for her team using the data exported directly from CharityCAN. In the end, that’s direct connections to over one third of the prospects put forward by the gift officers. If you remove the 50 American prospects that aren’t in our relationship mapping data, the success rate goes up to 50%!
While she noted that “this is not a project that’s designed to provide ‘instant’ results … the information I provided has been received with optimism.” She also shared that one of her gift officers mentioned that “it’s a huge help knowing which board/senate members are connected to these prospects.” Since they will be tracking the success rate of the project over time, it will be interesting to watch how these new relationships develop.
Now that she has the relationship and profile information she needs in CharityCAN, she also said she’s started including connections found using the relationship path search function in a dedicated section of the profile reports she prepares for new prospects.
It’s great to learn firsthand how an organization is using relationship mapping to help their fundraising efforts. If you’d like to take a look at some of our relationship mapping tools, contact us for a free trial!
What does it take to start a fundraising program from scratch? I sat down over coffee with Kathie Must, Manager, Philanthropy at Reception House Waterloo Region, to find out. Kathie started at Reception House in October of 2017 and became a CharityCAN user not long after that. Since we get asked sometimes about early stage fundraising, I asked Kathie if she could share some of her story and she was gracious enough to agree.
"Being more strategic, even for a small organization makes a lot of sense."
Reception House is a “community-based organization that provides warm welcome to government assisted refugees,” helping newcomers settle in Canada and Waterloo Region. Before Kathie started their fundraising program, they were almost entirely government funded, with only a very small group of loyal supporters and a few monthly and online donors. So, Kathie’s first order of business was to look inward, identifying the resources Reception House did have, and to put together a plan on how to use them.
What they had was a great story, awareness of the program within the community, and a well-connected and respected executive director. Kathie put together Reception House’s “elevator pitch” and then started the process of looking for potential funding sources.
To do that, Kathie took the first step of profiling her own organization. “One of the things we used CharityCAN for was to compare us to other like organizations,” she said. “If we compare ourselves to other organizations of similar size in the settlement sector, who supports them? Who are the ones who are more likely to feel a connection to what we are doing?”
"Cultivation starts at prospect research. It's all about relationship."
After identifying some potential funders, Kathie started planning a calendar and used her connections to reach out. “Even for foundations, you don’t just send in an application,” Kathie said. “How do you get to know them; how do you share what you’re doing [and] find someone who might be able to give a warm referral?” After finding connections, she also worked backwards to find the best times to put in an application for funding or make specific asks. When meeting with potential donors, Kathie used research to prepare her colleagues. “If we talked about a potential source or a potential foundation, I was able to put together very quickly a briefing note with some really good information,” Kathie said. “To get people to act, you need to give them enough information that they feel confident, so that was really helpful.”
Over that first year, Kathie focused on being not just a fundraiser but a facilitator for the team. “I think being more intentional, being more strategic, even for a small organization makes a lot of sense,” Kathie said. “Thinking about the research, because cultivation starts at prospect research. It’s all about relationship. And then making sure everyone is involved. Like the program manager who gets a grant funded – [making sure] the program manager is writing the thank you [to the donor]. I know that message will be valued by the donor and will show the impact of her gift on our program.”
So how did all this fundraising strategy help Reception House? “We far exceeded our targets for this year,” Kathie remarked. “[We met] some of those goals that felt like stretch goals at the beginning.”
Going forward, Kathie hopes to start expanding more into individual giving and using prospect research to help figure out what makes their donors choose them, and make sure Reception House can continue its mission. “My dream for this region is that we become the most diverse, culturally wise community to show to the world,” Kathie said. “We’re helping support a group that tends to be the most vulnerable, but they also have so much potential. Being part of a fabulous team that helps make that happen is really important.”
Here at CharityCAN we know how important relationships are to fundraising. Donors want to be connected to your mission and your organization. Strong relationships can make all the difference, and prospect research can help to find and cultivate those relationships. That’s the reason we’re so excited to announce our newest feature: custom relationship maps.
While board positions are easy to find and verify, they only barely scratch the surface of how a person might be connected to another person or organization: what about that major donor who isn’t on your board but you know has been a long-time supporter? What about your prospect’s business partner, or their law school classmate? We haven’t been able to fully tap into a prospect’s inner circle until now.
Creating a relationship map
Now on any saved prospect profile, you’ll find a Custom Graph tab that will let you build a new, completely customized relationship map from the ground up.
Starting with your prospect, you can add relationships to any organization or person in CharityCAN, along with the strength of that relationship.
Then you can add connections to those connections, and on, and on, and on! We’ll suggest connections based on relationships that are already in our database, or you can strike out on your own, creating completely new ones.
The best part of these maps is that any new relationships you add to a custom map are instantly available for you in our relationship path search and our other relationship maps so you can make use of all your hard work.
We’ve also worked hard to ensure that your data is only your data. Any new relationships you create in a custom graph are visible only inside your organization, including any new paths created for your relationship path searches.
We hope that you find this new feature as exciting and powerful as we do. If you’d like a quick demonstration or if you have any questions, please get in touch!
Another year has come and gone here at CharityCAN! Longtime CharityCAN users may know that this year was a year of big changes here at our parent company of Third Sector Publishing. At the end of 2017, our founder (and my father) Anderson retired, and I moved from my role of VP Software to full-fledged CEO. With the Canadian Donor’s Guide, the annual reference book for Canadian donors that we used to publish, in the very capable hands of Alison Stoneman, we set about to put all our energy into CharityCAN and move ahead into 2018 as a fully focused software company.
Here we are, almost a year later, and thanks to our awesome team and our amazing users, we’ve been able to keep moving forward and make some great improvements to our prospect research and relationship mapping software, with more on the way.
As the New Year approaches, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of lists (TV Shows?Podcasts?), and we thought we could contribute by listing some of the key new features that have appeared on CharityCAN over the past year.
Personalized Prospect Profiles
We’ve worked hard to make sure you can tie any piece of data from anywhere in CharityCAN into a profile for an individual. Quickly see board positions, donations, relationships, social media information and more with one quick profile view, and create your own profiles that our algorithm missed out on.
New Relationship Mapping Features
We launched a new relationship graph engine that allowed us to introduce a new relationship map of an individual’s connections to organizations as well as people. It also gives users the ability to filter any of our relationship maps or relationship path searches so you can customize each search by relationship type, recency and strength.
We’ve also started using this graph engine to surface prospects your organization is connected to. When you set a default organization in either our Relationship Paths search or My Prospect Profiles page, we can suggest prospects for you based on their connections to your board.
One of our newest features, we’ve started working on adding some new visualizations to our profiles, starting with donation records on charity and individual giving history. We’re going to continue to look at new and interesting ways to link and present the data in CharityCAN.
We have a few ideas about what we’ll be working on in 2019, but our best source of ideas come from you, our users (and potential users!). If you have something you’d like to see in CharityCAN, please get in touch and let us know! We’ve got some of the best customers a company could ask for, and we always love connecting with you.
Thanks again to everyone we’ve met along the way this past year. We look forward to meeting new people and forging new relationships in the new year!