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Research Paper

Developing a data (science) strategy for a not-for- profit organisation


Assessment task 2: Developing a data (science) strategy for a not-for- profit organisation

Intent: Students gain experience in dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity through developing a data (science) strategy

Objective(s): 1, 3, 4 and 5

Type: Report

Groupwork: Group, group assessed

Weight: 30%

Length: 1500-2000 words (excluding appendices)

Due: 2 Oct 2022, 11.59pm


CanDo is a not-for-profit (NFP) organization that provides support services for cancer patients and also carries out cancer research. Over 90% of CanDo’s support and research activities are funded by donations from the general public.

The Marketing and Fundraising Division (MFD) of CanDo is responsible for raising public awareness of the significance of the work done by the organization, recruit volunteers, build relationships with other organisations…and, of course, the all-important work of raising funds without which CanDo would not be able to do its work. Funds are raised via a number of campaigns and events. Donors and participants for these are targeted via traditional RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) approaches.

CanDo was established in 1990. As you might expect from an organization that has been around for 30+ years, it has a large database of donors – perhaps the largest in the country. Since 2018, CanDo has been using a donor management system called DonorMatch from a well-established vendor. Prior to that, they used a system called DonorMix. Historical data from DonorMix is available and can be accessed if needed.

However, this data is difficult to link to the current data as donor ids changed when CanDo migrated from DonorMix to DonorMatch.

To support system-related work, the MFD has a data support group that sits within the MFD function and reports to the Head of Fundraising. The data support group does RFM analysis to support fundraising activities and also provides manual weekly reports that enable managers to track how their campaigns are doing. As the organization is a Microsoft shop, the group uses SQL-based technologies from Microsoft to do their work (SQL Server, Power BI etc). The RFM analysis is time consuming because of data quality issues such as a) multiple records corresponding to the same donor, b) incomplete or incorrect contact details of donors. Nevertheless, the RFM approach has worked quite well…until recently.

Covid and inflation have taken a toll on the general public’s appetite to donate to NFPs. In addition, there are ever-increasing number NFPs chasing a pool of donors that is, at best, static (and, more likely, shrinking). Yet, the Head of Fundraising has been asked to grow funding. She instinctively feels that the answer lies in making better use of the data the organization has. She convinces the somewhat reluctant board that the organization urgently needs to develop a strategy that will enable MFD (and even other divisions such as Cancer Patient Support) to use data to make better decisions around fundraising. Following board approval, she approaches your consultancy to develop and implement a data strategy for the organization.


Deliverable: Your consultancy’s assignment is to deliver a strategy document based on your understanding of CanDo’s requirements and your own research. Length: 1,500-2000 words (excluding appendices)

Criteria: Submissions will be assessed on the following criteria

1. Depth and breadth of research and its relevance to the proposed strategy.

2. Quality of choices made and supporting arguments for them.


3. Identification of risks and development of strategies for mitigation.

4. Ethical considerations (if any) identified and proposed measures to address them.


5. Comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the proposed strategy.

Note 1: All claims should be justified via models (incl assumptions), data and sources. This material is part of the assessment and must be included as appendices to the report. Also, minutes of all group meetings relating to the project should be submitted as an appendix.

Note 2: Each team member has to contribute adequately to this assignment. The report must include a statement about individual team member contributions to the effort. A team charter may be useful. The subject co-ordinator reserves the right to weigh the team members' case study marks in case of clearly unequal contributions.


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