Through a partnership with the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI), the Red Cross has linked up with six teams of researchers from around the country, including analytics experts from Baylor University, the University of Pittsburgh and the IBM Watson Research Center who will analyze data from the Red Cross database to develop tools for improving the organization’s outreach efforts.
The payoff for nonprofits like the Red Cross may be as valuable as it has been for businesses that have mastered the analytics field. “This could have a huge impact, because efficiency in [the nonprofit] industry really matters,” notes Eric Bradlow, a Wharton marketing professor and co-director of WCAI. “Converting disaster donors to lifetime donors is crucially important.” But nonprofits looking to harness this sort of data will face the same challenges seen in the for-profit world, Bradlow and other experts say, including effectively translating analytical insight into new outreach efforts and finding the right balance between tracking customers and respecting their privacy.
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