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Advocacy groups need to tear down their internal data walls. 

Traditional metrics like letters delivered and emails opened are the kind of bread-and-butter data points that groups have long used to measure effectiveness. But when it comes to sizing up a supporter’s engagement this cycle, clicks, page views, entries into form fields, like buying branded merchandise, and social shares are all critical data points that cannot be ignored.  

Internally, advocacy groups often give only ad hoc analysis to the full picture of their interactions with a supporter. But just because someone has signed up for an email list doesn’t mean that their level of interest is infinite. In fact, people can be easily targeted with refined messaging if groups take a closer look at their data. Whether these people sign up for a conference or buy a T-shirt supporting your association brand, there are still more actions they can take for your cause. 

Inter-departmental sharing of data is a secret to success when it comes to this form of targeting. Advocacy leaders must internally share data from systems and communications that are sent out vis-à-vis assets maintained by their departments, and vice versa with other outlets within the association such as marketing and communications.

A two-way data flow will improve the accuracy and data quality of the organization and individually with the separate branches of the association.

Data hygiene can be a boon for associations on actions big and small: alert responses, fundraising, even membership retention. It may take some time and refining of the process before the data flow is fully synced. But the return on investment and the quelling of threats related to neglecting data hygiene are well worth it. 

Data affects all elements of an association including human resources and operations. Quality data will keep the lights on, while poor data can lead to membership losses, email fatigue and hiring headaches, among other issues. These ills are easily revived by sharing data and cured by alleviating the silos between departments. 

From a strictly advocacy perspective, you need to use the data from all systems to maximize participation and achieve results. Advocacy professionals should be monitoring communications channels, timing and activity trends to get the right message to the right subset of people resulting in a favorable response.  

There are platforms available to help with this analysis, and hiring one can accelerate a group's ability to leverage their data resources. By leveraging data to maximize participation of supporters, advocacy professionals can help move the needle on issues affecting their associations. 

Joshua Habursky is director of advocacy at the Independent Community Bankers of America, chairman of the Grassroots Professional Network, and adjunct professor at West Virginia University.