nonprofit data skills Mar 16, 2021

This post goes out to my nonprofit data friends but is certainly applicable to anyone learning a new skill of any type. Identifying patterns from one place and applying those patterns in another place is an efficient and effective way to develop new skills.

We observe and identify patterns to improve upon a skill or even learn a whole new one all the time. It is a natural way to learn. When a person in your life repeats the same patterns over and over you begin to expect that person to give you the same results time after time. You observed that person's behavior, identified patterns in said behavior, and became good at predicting outcomes based on the behavior.

Donor management systems are the same. If the system does something in one area when you take a specific action, that same action taken in another area of the system - even though the function may be called something different - will produce similar if not the same results.

Here's a specific example. When I first started working with donor management systems, I learned on Blackbaud's Raiser's Edge. From this jumping off point - a good jumping off point for sure - I was soon able to identify patterns by way of similar tools, functions, and operations in other products which then enabled me to add consulting for those products to my services menu.

Think about a large functional area of your organization's donor management system. An output you produce in let's say the reporting module is going to have patterns - a similar layout, buttons, and fields for example - that you can observe, identify, and apply to other areas like exporting or mailing to get similar if not the same results you got from the reports area.

Here's the deal though. You have to say yes, to see, to be aware of the observing, identifying, and applying of patterns in order to create additional opportunities throughout the system and improve your use of it overall.


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