Megan Carder, VP & Managing Director  ●  6/3/2020

Ensuring Meaningful Data Analysis After the Pandemic



If you are a nonprofit serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are likely operating under the tyranny of the urgent — and rightfully so. Perhaps you’ve had to retool the logistics of your entire operational strategy, even more than once. Perhaps you’ve had to implement new protocols to keep staff, volunteers, and clients safe, and revise internal and external communications to reflect the current situation. Not to mention the countless hours you’ve had to roll up your own sleeves to fulfill your mission due to increased need and/or decreased volunteers.

For many nonprofits like you — crisis relief and feeding organizations, for instance — your dedication is being met by an outpouring of donor support from loyal and new donors alike. This heightened generosity is timely and needed. But with so much going on operationally, it’s difficult to pause and think about what this will mean long term.

How will you ensure meaningful data analysis moving forward? Without doubt, the crucial first step in a time of crisis like this is to ensure these donors are properly coded in your database.

The solution may be easier than you think. You don’t have to add flags, tags, or new coding logic to your database. All you need to do now to ensure meaningful data in the future is to simply get organized.

Download Your Copy of the Disaster Code Table

By keeping a running log of all of your source codes receiving coronavirus-related gifts, and the date ranges of their arrival, you’ll create an incredibly valuable guide for your future reporting. This log should include all COVID-19-specific appeals, as well as any generic source codes for existing campaigns or gift activity that likely generated coronavirus-motivated gifts during this time period.

For instance, the first line in the example below indicates the general online donation page with a specific date range and the second line indicates a coronavirus-specific direct mail appeal where all gifts, regardless of date, are considered “COVID-19-motivated”.


Appeal Code Disaster From Date To Date
ONLINE2020 COVID-19 3/12/2020 9/10/2020



This log format eliminates the need for updating your current coding practice, which would create additional training and time needs, and leaves room for inaccuracies. But more importantly, it also creates:

  1. A meaningful long-term reference document for “outlier” donor performance during crises
  2. A map for continued file health analysis that can exclude crisis donations when necessary
  3. Guidelines for analyzing COVID-19 donor performance and retention as a separate audience
  4. A set of rules for creating specific donor journeys based on donor motivations

While the coronavirus is today’s concern, this same logging system can and should be used during other times of altered giving (increased or decreased), like natural disasters or economic crises.

As hard as it may be to imagine today, there will come a time when the COVID-19 crisis is behind us and nonprofit operations will return to normal (albeit likely a modified “normal”). And as the questions start rolling in, as they always do, you’ll be able to dive right in with a comprehensive log of source codes that eliminates any need for retracing footsteps.  


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