PC Users vs. Mac Users: The Definitive Study

Photo by flickr user fishines.
Mashable had a fun post yesterday about Hunch’s new research comparing Mac and PC folks. Some highlights from the infographic:

  • Mac users are more likely to have college degrees and to prefer modern art, while PC users go more for the impressionists.
  • PC users are more likely to prefer sweet snacks while Mac users tend to go for the salt.
  • Mac users throw more parties, eat more expensive french fries, and prefer to read the New York Times over USA Today, while PC users lean more toward Harleys than Vespas, tend to prefer suburbs and rural areas, and are much more likely to include meat in their diet.
  • PC users are more likely to aim for tuna fish sandwiches and strawberry daiquiris while Mac users go for hummus and hot toddies.

I’m not sure what any of this has to do with social sector capacity, but it’s good fun anyway.

Storytime

Our job as an executive director or any other nonprofit community leader boils down to our skill as a storyteller.  Our job, simply put, is to tell compelling stories.

A compelling story captures the imagination.  This is particularly obvious with donors.  We have to offer a story about why our organization’s work is so important.  Our storytelling has to make donors feel that they are part of that story, that they matter, and that their contributions will truly make a difference.

That it’s a story doesn’t mean it can’t be true; on the contrary, it needs to be both true and authentic or it probably won’t be very compelling.

And this is true with just about everyone else we interact with as well.  Our volunteers are almost the same as your donors: they need to feel like they are valued and that their contributions matter to something really important that they care about.  Our board and our staff all need to feel they are part of something vital.  Every time we talk with a reporter, our storytelling skills are put to the test, just as they are when we build collaborations with partners and when we pleading our case before a judge.

Getting to Stories with Metrics

Jeff Brooks is the man behind a great blog called Future Fundraising Now. In a recent post he discussed what performance metrics donors are looking for from the nonprofits they support.

Brooks’ thesis is that donors give primarily for emotional reasons and while metrics aren’t irrelevant donors aren’t seeking to connect with a cause or organization on data-driven, analytical levels. Stories about the people involved in and benefiting from the organization’s work (work funded by the donor) fuel the emotion that engages people to give, volunteer, fan organizations on Facebook and spread the word.

Yet Brooks doesn’t dismiss metrics one bit. With respect to stories he writes of good data gathering:

“You’ll get better stories. A system of gathering metrics will put you in contact of what donors really want: stories. And that leads to better fundraising.”

Metrics can tell a story about stories. Donors want stories.

But how do we learn about our storytelling from metrics? There is a ton of data out there. Too much. What can help guide us, inspire us to write better stories for our donors and others in our audience?

We can look at feedback metrics to gauge interest in our work. Some of these measurements also come with commentary that can give insight into the quality of the work. These metrics might be, for example:

  • pageviews of a blog post or other web page,
  • comments on a blog post, and
  • retweets, facebook shares and other social media discussion

If you don’t think that your content is generating the sort of reader numbers or discussion that you expect it could be a sign that you aren’t telling good stories and engaging people in your work through the content. Growing pageviews and comments in a certain type of content or subject area could indicate that those stories are interesting your constituents and may be good topics for further stories and fundraising efforts.

What about programmatic metrics? We can look at data measuring the type, quality or quantity of programs the organization provides to flesh out stories about that work. Here it is going to depend on your work but tying programmatic metrics to the people (and places) you have helped will strengthen stories.

  • How many people have been trained at job training sessions? How many participants are now in the workforce? What is a story of one or more participants about their experience and way life has improved?
  • How many meals were put on a table by your food bank? How many people have access to more local food with better nutritional value through your inner city slow food project? What are some of the stories from participants about how this has made them more independent or better able to feed their family?
  • How many people are receiving calls and emails encouraging them to attend a county hearing on natural gas drilling in the area? How many showed up? How many spoke? How many are now engaged in ongoing efforts to improve energy production in the area?

We work in a time when it is literally possible (almost) to drown in data that measures our performance. Your supporters don’t want to see it all. They will love you because you do great work that changes lives. Focus (for your donors) on telling good stories informed by solid metrics. If you want data for your accountant that may be something altogether different.