Choosing a Primary Fundraising Strategy:
Using Multiple Objective Decision Analysis in the Non-Profit Sector
For five years, Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania (YA) hosted Dazzle, a Dancing with the Stars-style competition where local VIPs were paired with professional dancers and performed at a gala event. While Dazzle was successful in raising funds for YA, the time and effort required to produce the event were causing fatigue with some board and staff members. Kromite performed Multiple Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) to help answer the question: Should YA continue to host Dazzle or implement an alternative primary fundraising strategy? Three alternatives including Dazzle produced the most value for achieving the objectives for YA fundraising, with a significant drop off in scores between the third and fourth ranked alternatives indicating that only those top three alternatives merited consideration.
Figure 1: Value Hierarchy for YA Primary Fundraising Activity
A value hierarchy was produced to demonstrate the values for YA fundraising (Figure 1). Through discussions of YA staff and board members facilitated by Kromite, objectives were weighted from the bottom of the value hierarchy up. Seven alternatives (including Dazzle) were evaluated according to the value function formulated through a weighting exercise to determine the value each alternative would produce for YA (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Value each alternative produces for YA
Since reaching financial goals was given a very high weight of 65%, sensitivity analysis was performed by reducing the weight of that subobjective by 50% and increasing all other weights proportionally. The results of the sensitivity analysis demonstrated the robustness of the evaluation, since changing the weight of reaching financial goals had no impact on the order of the ranking of the top three alternatives (Figure 3). Our final recommendation to YA was a more in-depth dive into the top three alternatives, as our analysis did not include investigation into practicalities such as location of event-based alternatives and both cost and availability of celebrities.
Figure 3: Sensitivity analysis for value each alternative produces for YA
We received positive feedback from the YA staff members that we worked with about both the process and results we provided for them. Ann Betterton, the Development Director for YA, said,
“The non-profit arts education field can feel like a small, insular club at times. It was a valuable learning experience to work with a consulting firm so vastly different than our usual collaborators. Kromite’s expertise helped us get a glimpse into the way data can be used to approach decisions, how to weigh variables, how to quantify and measure outcomes, and how to build models to predict outcomes.”
Michele Russo, President and CEO of YA, added,
“The thinking around our fundraising event has been difficult to unpack and this process allowed us to do that. The decision carries potential risks and rewards and our organization is fairly risk averse. I believe the process helped identify potential risks and rewards and given us an ability to discuss those in an informed way with our trustees so that the conversation goes beyond hunches, fear and personal preference.”