Can we create a statistical tool to help chief development officers make decisions?

Do you wish you had a predictive model that would help you answer questions, such as:

  • Which new fundraising activity is most likely to yield the best returns?
  • How much does consumer confidence impact my bottom line?¬†
  • What level of experience should I look for in my next development hire?

At a training I gave last month on strategies for upgrading donors, a major gifts person wanted to know which of the five strategies -- conditional ask strings, sustaining programs, recognition lists, matching campaigns, or second-gift asks -- would produce the best results. Unfortunately, I couldn't point to an analysis of industry-wide data that would help us chart a path to success. But then I thought, why not? Why can't we have statistical models for the development office?

The first step in developing such a model is to pinpoint the internal and external variables that should be part of the statistical tool -- everything from executive director's tenure and board commitment, to consumer confidence and fluctuations in the stock market. Then, to do a regression analysis, test the model in real-life, and, if it works, make the tool available online. If you have an hour to participate in a conference call, or alternatively, to give me your feedback one-on-one about what you think the variables should be, you can send me an email at The first conference call is scheduled for Thur. May 15, at 2:00 pm ET. A second call will be held in late May.