If you work in development at a nonprofit, you understand that donations are absolutely crucial. These contributions not only affect the services you provide but also have wide-ranging impacts on your community, including equipment upgrades, staff salaries and local job opportunities. However, it's often a challenge to predict your annual budget and comprehend what factors drive donor decisions.
That's where Minitab, a powerful data analysis tool, can be a game-changer. While you might already be familiar with Minitab's capabilities in data management, descriptive statistics and visualizations, you might not know that it can help you forecast your donations for the coming year, analyze the impact of different variables and generally streamline your donation processes.
In this blog post, we'll explore two simple ways Minitab can help you gain a better understanding of your incoming donations and what variables impact them.
Example #1: Forecasting
Forecasting year-to-year donations for nonprofits can be a challenging task due to the unpredictable nature of giving trends. Many nonprofits heavily rely on donations from individual supporters, making it difficult to estimate both the amount and timing of incoming funds.
However, Minitab's time series analysis offers a valuable solution. By importing your data into Minitab, you can examine historical trends and generate forecasts for the number of donors, donation amounts, and when these contributions are likely to occur.
Consider this example:
In the chart above, you can see the monthly donations received by an animal rescue foundation over the past three years. Minitab's time series decomposition plot helps identify clear trends and shows when donations tend to peak during certain times of the year. Additionally, it provides projections (shown in purple with triangles) for total donations over the next two years, with a relatively low Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE) of 6%, indicating high prediction accuracy.
This analysis also reveals that donations tend to spike towards the end of the year, particularly in October, November and December. Armed with this information, the organization can make informed annual decisions, taking into account these seasonal variations. For instance, they may plan to accommodate twelve more dogs than the previous year between August and September, anticipating the donations they are forecasted to receive during the year-end months. Alternatively, they can invest more in marketing efforts to boost donations further during these crucial year-end periods.
Example #2: Analyze the impact of variables
Nonprofit organizations often struggle to determine which factors truly affect their donations and which ones are less significant. Some factors, like hosting donor events and marketing efforts, are within the organization's control, while others, such as broader economic indicators, are not. Knowing which variables are significant and which are not help to protect valuable time and resources.
For this challenge, Minitab's Predictive Analytics module comes in handy, allowing you to import your data and identify the key variables that have the most significant impact on donations, completed easily with a relative variable importance chart.
In our example, we used the same dataset, which included data on the total donation amount, the number of donor events, the quantity of marketing emails sent, the unemployment rate, wage growth and the closing value of the Dow Jones index each month. Our goal was to analyze this data and determine which factors played the most significant role in influencing donation volumes.
When entered into Minitab, our analysis revealed that donor events and the frequency of marketing emails had the most substantial impact on donations. When the organization held more events and increased their marketing outreach, donations tended to rise. Wage growth was somewhat important but not as influential, while the Dow Jones index and unemployment rate had minimal impact.
This data is crucial because it highlights that the factors with the most significant influence on donations are under the organization's control.
Moreover, the concept of assessing the relative importance of variables extends beyond donations. Nonprofits can use this approach to identify the top three factors contributing to dogs being returned within six months of adoption or to pinpoint the critical factors in employee retention. The possibilities are extensive when you have access to comprehensive and robust data.
These tools represent just a glimpse of the wide array of resources that Minitab provides to assist nonprofits in unraveling the intricacies of their donations and forecasting future operating budgets. What makes it even more appealing is that Minitab is a user-friendly, no-code platform. This means you don't need a dedicated engineer or statistician to tap into the power of statistics.
So what comes next? You have a couple of options. You can kick things off by downloading a free trial of Minitab Statistical Software to experience its capabilities firsthand. Alternatively, you can explore our Education Hub, where you'll find an abundance of resources designed to help you delve deeper into the world of statistics.
If you're eager to take the plunge and bring Minitab into your nonprofit organization, our team is here to assist you every step of the way. We're just a connection away, ready to provide you with valuable insights and guidance to help your nonprofit make more informed decisions, starting right now.