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Data and research-centered job descriptions for philanthropy teams

Many health care development organizations would benefit from hiring additional staff focused on data analysis, data management, or prospect research. Over half of development leaders report “little support to none” from the data analytics function at their respective provider organizations.

At the median, organizations dedicate about 1 FTE to database management, prospect research, and data analysis within their development teams. At the 75th percentile, organizations dedicate 3 FTEs to database management, 2 FTEs to prospect research, and 2 FTEs to data analysis. At the other end of the spectrum—the 25th percentile—organizations dedicated 1 FTE to database management and zero FTEs to prospect research or data analysis.

Download a variety of philanthropy data and research-related job descriptions that you can easily tailor to meet your foundation or development department’s needs below.

Making the business case

One of the most common forms of pushback to investing in data and research staff is that it’s challenging to estimate the financial ROI. Unlike roles with a direct revenue raising function (e.g., a major gift officer), non-fundraising roles have a less clear ROI. In major gifts, for example, if a MGO raises $1.3M per year and costs $100,000 in compensation—there’s a 13:1 ROI. This assessment requires more creativity for non-fundraising roles.

One way to demonstrate the financial impact of a non-fundraising role is calculating time saved for MGOs. A non-profit health system in the Midwest suggests making the business case for a prospect researcher or data analyst by demonstrating how much time your MGOs regain by not having to complete research or data tasks.

Here’s a way to evaluate the revenue opportunity:

1. Count your number of major gift officers (in FTEs). Our annual benchmarking survey reports that the median hospital foundation has 4-FTEs dedicated to major gifts.

2. Calculate the average amount of funds a MGO at your organization raises each year. One quick way to do this is taking the total amount of major gifts raised per year and dividing it by your number of MGOs. Our previous research found that the median major gift officer raised $1.3M per year.

3. Calculate the average amount of funds an MGO raises per hour. Take the average amount of fund raised per year and divide it by 2,080 (i.e., the number of working hours in a year for a 40-hour week). This generates how much money a MGO raises on average each hour. Using our data, this would be $625 per hour.

4. Multiple the answer to #3 by your number of MGOs. This is your potential revenue opportunity per hour at your organization. In our example, this would be $2,500 per hour.

5. Ask your major gift officers what percent of their time they spend completing prospect research reports or donor database administration. Multiply this percentage by #4. This is the amount of money you lose each hour your MGOs spend time on research tasks instead of major gifts activities. In our example, we estimate major gift officers spend 20% of their time on prospect research. Our example's revenue loss per hour would be $500 per hour.

Next let’s look at how much it would cost to employ a prospect researcher or donor database manager.

6. Use a job search site, like Glassdoor or Zip Recruiter, to find the annual salary of the research role you’re interested in hiring for. In the U.S., the median prospect research specialist makes $77,000 per year (Comparably).

7. Divide the salary by 2,080 (the number of working hours in a year for a 40-hour week). The median prospect research specialist makes about $37 per hour.

8. Subtract #7 from your revenue opportunity per hour in #4. In our example, when you subtract $37 (Answer to #7) from $2,500 (Answer to #4), you get $2,463. This is $463 more than your revenue when your major gift officers are spending 20% of their time on prospect research.

If your total revenue per hour is better with the added costs of your new role, consider adding that role to your team. You could design the role to take on specific necessary tasks that take away from a major gift officers’ or frontline fundraisers’ time.

One caveat to this business case is it doesn’t consider the length of time it takes for a relationship to build with donor. This is something to consider as you use this example to make the case for data and research roles at your foundation.

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