Improving Performance with Information and Insight
Published by Lehman Associates

Intelligence and a Strategy Mindset

Intelligence – the new differentiator

Intelligence is a new core asset for nonprofits, and part-and-parcel to the use of technology as a strategic asset. Intelligence is the engine that drives advanced applications like marketing automation. When organizations have a deeper understanding of their constituents, they’re able to engage them in more meaningful ways through personalization, targeted communication and content, and more direct involvement in organization initiatives. That in turn builds stronger relationships, leading to greater success in fundraising and other programs.

The building blocks of intelligence are data and analytics. Of particular importance are data on donor behavior, such as knowing which emails an individual donor reads and responds to, what website content she views, and whether she participates in advocacy and other programs. Many nonprofits already use data overlays such as political indicators and use of social media to enrich donor profiles. The emerging Internet of Things offers the potential to greatly expand our knowledge of donors and constituents, as well as to help refine and measure the outcomes of programs. more

Data-driven systems such as marketing automation use donor demographics and behavior data to tailor content and messaging to help the organization engage donors. The next wave of analysis—predictive analytics—will go further, looking forward to predict behavior and understand the dynamics of the environments in which the nonprofit operates. This will enable organizations to refine program strategies to better achieve desired outcomes as well as engage donors in more meaningful ways.

A mark of successful organizations will be their commitment to rich data and analytics.

Strategy Mindset

Our research also shows that a strategy mindset within organizations correlates with greater success. A greater focus on strategy and outcomes enables organizations to take full advantage of the expanded role of technology, and to remain flexible to embrace new approaches as they emerge. More than 60% of nonprofits that have a formal and written engagement strategy also experienced a year-over-year growth in fundraising. In contrast, only one-quarter of those who have no plans to develop an engagement strategy plan experienced increases.



Today’s donor management systems are much more than simply a means to store donor information and provide basic fundraising and communications capabilities. They are the organization’s hub for specialized applications and the focal point for intelligence about donors and constituents.

To fulfill this role, your DMS needs to work well with other applications and support bi-directional data flows, interface with advanced analytics systems for needs beyond standard reporting capabilities, and be flexible enough to accommodate new models and applications as they emerge in the months and years ahead.