Week Seven: Cruze Patrol

This week, I took a quick trip to Ohio- back to the middle of the country for me! I saw snow and flat land. It was just like being at home (which wasn’t that nostalgic since I actually was home last weekend). My colleagues Judy and Katrina brought me in on one of their project teams. It was great to have colleagues onsite with me!

Before I go any further, I wanted to mention that I’ve created a new section of the blog, Vital Stats. If you want more information about my travels by the numbers, take a look. I’ll be updating it weekly.

We weren’t able to coordinate our schedules to/from the airport, which resulted in one of the more awesome inefficiencies I think I’ve ever experienced:

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We all arrived at different days/times at the Detroit airport, and each of us got a light colored Chevy Cruze! We laughed when we all pulled up at the client site.

That got me thinking, what does efficiency mean? Webster defines it as: the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy. Okay, so we want to save money, time, or effort. In the case of the BWF Cruze Patrol*, we could have saved some money on car rentals if we’d been able to coordinate schedules, but would it be worth it if the flights we had to choose were more expensive, or if we had to drive to an airport that was 45 miles further out?

Looking at things from an efficiency perspective puts money, time, and effort on an equal playing field. In other words, saving time and/or finding shortcuts are a currency in and of themselves. Consider the following efficiencies that consumers will pay for…

Consumer efficiencies:

  • Premier/priority airline status: allows you to skip to the front at most airport TSA lines. Among other perks, you also get a comfy seat which is located in the front of the plane (helpful if you have a connecting flight you need to make).
  • TSA precheck: allows you to keep your laptop packed up and your shoes on in the airport security line.
  • Tailoring: pay someone else to hem your pants. I’m not talking about major alterations here, but when is the last time you took out a needle and thread to fix a loose button? Most of us are willing to pay a convenience fee to have someone else do this.
  • DVR: lets you watch TV shows when you want to and skip past commercials.

Clearly, these efficiencies vary widely, and I’m sure each of you can come up with situations that are much more applicable for you, but you get the point. As consumers, we all make decisions to take shortcuts that will make our lives easier, either because it’s worth the cost, we don’t have the time to do it ourselves, or doing it ourselves would be a disaster (this is why I will pay someone else to sew a button or prepare Thanksgiving dinner — no one needs to see the result of my efforts in either area).

Prospect Development efficiencies:

Here’s where I get all consultant-y on you…if you’re reading this as a friend of mine, this part could get a bit boring or confusing. You won’t hurt my feelings if you stop reading here (Hi Dad!).

If you’re in fundraising, esp. prospect development, read on!

Both in my time at BWF, and in some previous consulting gigs I’ve worked, I’m often asked my opinion of research resources. For future clients: please feel free to ask me, I love talking about this stuff, but here’s what it ultimately comes down to: research resources exist to improve efficiency in your shop. Don’t simply look at the cost of a new resource when making your decision. Ask yourself:

  • Is this easy for me to use? Saves Time
  • Will this give me access to some feature or function I don’t already have? Saves Effort

This applies to more than just research resources. What about creating triggers in your database so that when a gift officer enters a contact report indicating that s/he has visited a prospect for the second time, s/he receives a prompt automatically asking if it’s time to change the prospect stage from qualification to cultivation? Obviously, the specific criteria will vary from institution to institution, but you get the point. This type of thing may take a herculean effort to set up, but the potential payoff in creating efficient systems may be worth it.

By now, you may be thinking, “Bond, I get it. This stuff makes my life easier. It helps me get my job done faster or with less legwork. And it is all intensely valuable. But how can I convince my VP to invest in my go-to research resource, or to let me dedicate time to automating prospect stages?”

My friends, it’s time to once again think like a consumer. Next time you’re in a position to plead your case for more resources in front of your VP, try comparing that item on your research wishlist to flying first class and skipping ahead in the security line at the airport. In some cases, it’s the difference between making and missing a flight.

*Patent Pending. Okay, not really. I felt like it was important to note that as a firm, BWF does not support any specific car brand, and the Cruze Phenomenon was purely coincidental. Have I covered my bases now?

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