Data Analytics Helps Amnesty International Belgium

It’s no secret that nonprofit organizations face many of the same challenges as for-profit businesses. However, they also must operate on tight budgets and focus on putting every dollar to work—while coping with fluctuating donation levels.

At Amnesty International, which documents human rights violations and seeks justice around the world, managing data is a challenge. “It is important to communicate well and ensure that we’re reaching out and marketing in the most efficient and effective way possible,” says Ilja De Coster (in photo at left), in-house fundraising consultant for Amnesty International Belgium, Flemish Section.

A couple of years ago, the regional organization had reached a crisis point in the way it manages internal data. It couldn’t see what data it had and had no way to put it to use effectively.

“We didn’t know what was happening with 20,000 active donors—people who contributed monthly,” De Coster recalls. “We didn’t have any statistics or analytics, and we couldn’t identify trends, including sign-ups and attrition rates.”

The result was an inability to design campaigns effectively and reach out to members in the right way. “We were fundraising blind,” he says.

Implementing a Data Analytics Platform

As a nonprofit entity that keeps a close eye on every dollar and its return on investment, the Belgian branch of Amnesty International recognized a need to make a change. The result? The organization turned to data analytics platform provider RapidMiner to take its reporting and analytics capabilities into the digital age.

The organization, which has integrated the software with its CRM system via a set of APIs, is now taking a more sophisticated and personalized approach to fundraising. “We are able to design campaigns and reach out to donors in a more streamlined way,” De Coster says.

For example, in the past, the organization had sent the same direct mail or email message to all donors who had contributed to Amnesty International. Today, with the ability to dive into data and slice it in different ways, the organization can examine a variety of factors, including who responded, the frequency of response and how much money individuals are contributing.

“This eliminates gut feelings and provides highly actionable information,” De Coster says. In addition, the organization can more accurately gauge the individuals to approach for additional contributions and when to approach them.

“We can examine donor behavior patterns and understand who is a stable donor and when we should ask them for a higher donation level,” he explains. The end result is an ability to tailor messages more specifically to different target groups and gauge the effectiveness of the campaign or approach.

De Coster says that Amnesty International Belgium has witnessed impressive results and continues to expand the use of the analytics platform. Because RapidMiner is code-free, marketing staff members spends less time tending to a variety of tasks, including building scripts, which are now reusable.

“It has eliminated a lot of manual Excel manipulations,” he says. This, in turn, has led to smoother interactions between technical IT specialists and marketers. In fact, De Coster estimates that the platform saves the equivalent of at least five working days every month, while also boosting donations.

“We have adopted a far more sophisticated approach that delivers real results,” he says.