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Forecasting Tool for Data-Driven Decision Making
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Jun 29 2021
Under Development

As our Children's Miracle Network Dance Marathons continue to grow, it is important that our community reevaluates our approaches to strategy and operations. One important piece of this puzzle for the University of Oklahoma's OUDM has been utilizing data to drive our decision making. Using this data-driven approach, OUDM's most valued input to success has been its automated forecasting tool. Quantitative forecasting allows our executive team to understand the trend that online donations should be following. Additionally, there are essentially three forecasting models that could be integrated into this tool to provide a wider and more accurate scope for fundraising: yearly (total fiscal year revenue), monthly (revenue across each month), and daily (revenue within each push day).

Throughout the year, this tool adjusted our final forecast daily, which remarkably forecasted all push day's fundraising totals by 1 pm within a 5% margin of error (FY 2020). This design added many insights, allowing OUDM's leadership team to make real-time shifts to its actions and messaging on push days to best activate our campus and community. Not only did this tool provide immeasurable additions on push days, but it also provided sustainability for our organization by quantifying campus fatigue, thus forming a better relationship with our student body.

Although Donor Drive provides useful tools for general analysis, OUDM has found that the built-in reports could include other key metrics, along with forecasting capabilities. Within this past year, our leadership team's real-time tracking and analysis tool directly affected how we fundraised, recruited participants, and interacted with our community. We would like to propose a similar data solution in the form of a comprehensive analytics dashboard for the Dance Marathon community to provide meaningful functionality, such as:

Forecasting fundraising and recruitment metrics using historical data and displaying current versus projected progress to give program leadership actionable insights to modify their strategy throughout the year

Automating push day analysis by labeling past push days, showing real-time metrics throughout the day, and pinpointing areas of focus to make the day as successful as possible

Social media tracking, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to avoid relying on expensive third-party applications, as well as sentiment analysis to quantify public perception

OUDM's current tracking tool exists as an Excel file that pulls data from DonorDrive's API. To make the tool simple and accessible to any leadership team, we would like to build a web application that displays the above-mentioned functionality in an easy to understand, clean, and concise interface. Individual Dance Marathon programs would use their specific Donor Drive private API access credentials to see information for their specific program.

Using various statistical and heuristic methods, this tool would aid each individual program in setting more informed year-long goals as well as provide them with necessary insights throughout the year to design and adjust programming in real-time. This will help ensure that they are staying on track to meet those goals. This data-driven tool will ultimately help programs grow in a healthy, informed, and sustainable manner.

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