Data: The secret ingredient for success

Data: The secret ingredient for success

Partnership with data analytics powerhouse SAS and The Kids' Cancer Project has produced exciting outcomes for all involved.

A partnership between data analytics powerhouse SAS and The Kids’ Cancer Project has produced exciting outcomes for all involved.

In the past, fundraising campaign management involved a fair amount of guesswork. If numbers weren’t looking as good as the campaign manager had hoped it was sometimes difficult to figure out the cause, or the best solution, or indeed if the numbers were accurate in the first place. 

That is no longer the case for The Kids’ Cancer Project. Eighteen months into a relationship with data analytics firm SAS, the charity now boasts an astounding level of real-time clarity around exactly what is happening in specific campaigns, and what needs to be fine-tuned to further boost results.

"This year we tested data analytics in our Write A Book In A Day campaign,” says Henry Yuen, IT and Database Manager with The Kids’ Cancer Project. “Last year the campaign made $320,000 and this year that figure jumped to $470,000."

“That is a very big increase, and we have attributed a lot of it to the fact that we’re working differently this year. We’re working with data and it shows us exactly what is going right, and what is going wrong.”

The ability to work with data analytics came about in partnership with SAS as part of their Data4Good initiative. This program has not only provided the software but has also trained up the IT staff at The Kids’ Cancer Project.

“SAS, through their Data4Good initiative, has given us the tools and the training around how to use those tools,” Yuen says. “They have helped us learn how to do it ourselves and have given us great confidence in our data analytics abilities.”

Those abilities, Yuen says, are like superpowers. Campaign reports that used to take up to 10 days to produce, and which therefore only offered a historical point of view, now take just 30 minutes.

“That means we can use the data during a campaign and in real-time,” he says. “The campaign manager has certainty around how the campaign is going. They are never in panic mode and they are never guessing. They can drill down and find valuable information, meaning if things are not going so well, they know exactly what must be done.”

At SAS Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), Data4Good is managed by Gayle Pacchini, who is extremely proud of the difference the program has been able to make both in the market and within SAS itself.

Originally working in the field of HR, Pacchini was working in business operations when she realised her work was missing a greater purpose. On exploring ideas with SAS ANZ’s Vice President David Bowie four years ago, she took up the challenge of implementing Data4Good locally across Australia and New Zealand, while continuing to deliver on her core role in business operations.

“I was inspired to create something that the whole team at SAS ANZ could feel proud to be a part of,” Pacchini explains. “Data4Good allows people the opportunity of volunteering for projects. It has also provided me with the opportunity of working with customers that benefit directly from what SAS has to offer.”

"By being involved at the frontline, I am able to see how analytics can really change lives. Our participation in the Data4Good movement contributes to making a significant difference in people’s lives and being a part of this initiative is really, really awesome."

‘Awesome’ is an excellent word for the change that data analytics has made to The Kids’ Cancer Project. Once SAS was able to improve the way data was collected, held and analysed within the charity, teams and executives were able to make better-informed decisions. When resources are not as plentiful as they might be in a for-profit corporate, that clarity and the resulting decisions can make an enormous difference.

“We’re able to help the charity to track a donor’s journey, for instance,” Pacchini says. “When did a donor first start contributing to The Kids’ Cancer Project? Is it seasonal? Was there a marketing campaign that aligned to when that donor joined? What’s their behaviour when they continue to contribute? Have they signed up for an annual repeat-and-forget, or are they actively making intended decisions towards when they are going to change and increase and modify their donation behaviour?”

The data shows patterns and behaviours that the donors themselves may not even be aware of. As a result, Yuen is excited to see what the partnership may yield in the next 12-months.

“The next step is to further embed data as part of our core culture driving efficiencies in our fundraising activities and effectiveness in our donor communication,” he says. “We are also inspired to attain a level of automation where AI will come into play. We believe our partnership with SAS provides us with a clear path to this goal.”

The ability to run data analytics in The Kids’ Cancer Project adds up to powerful insights into donor behaviour, campaign management and performance of the organisation itself. For SAS, the Data4Good initiative is a potent driver of attraction, engagement and retention of talented staff. And for the funding of cancer research, it means more work can be carried out, and the lives of more children can be improved. That’s a win/win/win.

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