Proof: Or, The Reason Budgets Still Favor Frontline Fundraising


"Show me the money!"

Jerry Maguire had to scream it to keep his one last client played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.

In the end, Cuba loved his agent because of "the Quan." "Quan," essentially, is caring. When you ask me about the money, that's not really caring about me. It's me caring about you. And I want to care enough to want to do that.

It means love, respect, community... and the dollars, too. The entire package. The Quan.
— Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) in "Jerry Maguire" (1994)

Right now, there are hundreds of entrepreneurial alumni engagement leaders who want to try new things. And sometimes they get budget to do that. Generally, that budget isn't comprehensive and that means the experiment was setup for failure at the outset. We'll talk more about that in a future post.

Critically, knowing that dollars today matter chiefly, how do we guard engagement against a further winnowing of budget and position in the advancement landscape?

In a word: proof.

Today, we get stories where small alumni engagement feature tools scrap to touch 2%-3% of a community at the "top end" of proof. If that's the end of the train of proof then we're doomed for a renewal of that investment. Again, something so small was always going to fail, but, more importantly, we have to get severe in proving engagement value. Severe with ourselves. Severe about how we measure our work.

And that's the rub because that kind of work is very hard. It's also half the role of any Fortune 1000 Chief Marketing Officer. "What's our impact?" They work very hard to quantify it - not just to prove their own value, but to make better investments, kill investments, and grow their organizations.

The first way in which QuadWrangle addresses this engagement-to-fundraising proof mandate is by quantifying all that messy engagement info, namely language data like what types of emails an alumna opens, what the topic of the events are that she's attended, fundraiser visit notes, and more to distinctly indicate the exact designation she's most likely to give to.

Engagement matters. Not conceptually. In absolute truth: it makes frontline, major gift fundraisers more impactful. But it takes rich advanced technologies to do this. We'll continue to discuss this space in the days and weeks to come, but please, talk with us. Engage in this post. Pose these questions severely to your own teams.

Nick ZecketsComment