“Data, like kids, are a labor of love.”

Children can teach us valuable lessons about work and inspire us to be better workers. In this episode, Tasha and I talked about how we apply these lessons in marketing, data, supporting non-profits, and more. From sleepless nights to endless battles over wearing underwear, we deep dive into the ways we can lean into research to learn more and become better at what we do, and why it’s essential to find balance in learning from the lessons of others and personalizing them to suit your needs.

Listen in to hear the connections between:

• sleep struggles and A/B market testing
• that picking your parenting battles is similar to knowing what data is ESSENTIAL at your nonprofit
• That in momming, and nonprofit work, there are no net neutral activities
• How generalizations can help you get started, but personalization will win the day

 Key takeaways:

  1. Find a balance between data-driven decision-making and human-centered approaches in the nonprofit sector. Use data to inform decisions, but also prioritize personalized and relational interactions with donors.
  2. Leverage donor data to make those personal connections even more special, or to focus on relationships where you really can make a difference.
  3. Focus on donor stewardship and provide a positive experience for donors by presenting data in a way that makes them feel comfortable and engaged.
  4. Recognize the challenges of nonprofit work, including the need for a labor of love in gathering and using data effectively, and take the time to care for oneself while working towards organizational goals.

What You Can Do

Recognize how much you do, and how much you actually know. Can you identify areas in your life where seemingly unrelated ‘outside’ skills are impactful in your work?


Tasha’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tasha-van-vlack/

LinkedIn people to follow:

Click to read the auto-generated transcript of today’s episode

Tasha: It’s really fun. It’s kind of, you know, I don’t think it’s expected that I even love the phrase you just used, which is family manager, because I think I should have that on my deleted profile, you know, family manager for the past 11 years. And
Alex: I’ve seen it really probably several times. Conversations on LinkedIn have women talking about this idea of can we listed on our resume? Can we list like managing our family? And oh, resoundingly the answer is yes. We should be able to because of t
Tasha: Oh, man, lots. There’s less. So much. I don’t even know where to start.
Alex: But where to start.
Tasha: Where to start. But I do think, at least for me personally, giving a slight bit of background as a mom that maybe you could do the same maybe is a good place to start, because I think everyone’s a little bit different in their parenting journey. S
Alex: Yeah. No, I love this. So I have to close. I have. They’ve just turned six and four, so my son is six and my daughter is four and my husband is British. So I joke that we have a mixed family, though from the outside it doesn’t always look that way
Tasha: Oh, my goodness, So cute. Is it kind of like Emily Blunt and John Krasinski when they talk about their kids being able to, like, switch back and forth and say, water differently and all of those cute things.
Alex: So my kids have not figured out how to switch yet. They’re not quite aware yet of the way that they sound, but what they have is British pronunciation of words with American intonation and cadence.
Tasha: That’s amazing.
Alex: The way they string sentences together and the way they like annunciated sentences. It’s very American, but the words they say they drop all the R’s off their ends of their words and everything. And I love that. But I sort of similar to you, my son
Tasha: But yes.
Alex: It was hard to feel like even the very beginning, the most basic thing you’re supposed to teach your kid that I was failing at it and then you’re just exhausted.
Tasha: And it’s one of those items that for whatever reason, the older generation, like my parents, my husband’s parents, are like, this is somehow a new problem because I didn’t have that sleepers like our kids slept. My mom keeps telling the story of,
Alex: And I think it encapsulates something that’s like a broader lesson of how much are we allowed to acknowledge personal struggles we’re having in terms of their impact of how we’re existing in the wider world, right? Whether that’s in our business or
Tasha: Yeah, well, and I think there’s even you can see some of the shift and LinkedIn’s such an interesting space. Exactly. For this reason. I think it just you can see a bit of the shift of there are some people talking about their struggles and others
Alex: I agree. I agree. And that’s been a fun journey for me to acknowledge how being a parent as part of my identity influences who I am professionally and whether, for better or worse, depending on the day.
Tasha: Yeah. Oh, for depending on the day is totally true. Right? You have a great morning. And everyone heads out to school and there’s no meltdowns and you feel like you can take over the world or sometimes I sit at my desk at 830 and I feel like I’ve
Alex: Right after you spent 17 minutes trying to convince your son to put his socks on.
Tasha: But I thought, why don’t they like why don’t they like socks, Right? Like, I don’t know. I live in Canada. Like you need socks in the winter. It’s not a it’s a non-negotiable item. It just shouldn’t. Yeah. Shouldn’t be a comment, but it is.
Alex: Agreed. Agreed. Well, I feel like we’ve already gotten into lesson number one about. Yes. Sharing her private personas publicly or her private challenges publicly. So which one do we want to do next?
Tasha: Okay, So I was trying to think through some of the pieces of what I took away from sleepless night struggles in particular, and that piece of parenting where you go in without a book on the child that you have. Right. So I have seen I felt like pa
Alex: I think with nonprofits because we are trying to tackle those big hairy problems that don’t just like our kids didn’t come with a playbook of here’s how to solve them.
Tasha: Oh man. So true. Right, Right.
Alex: It’s like, okay, But in the same way, there are sometimes pockets of examples where progress has been made or solved in a slightly like a different situation has been solved, right? We could look at different cities that tried something that our ci
Tasha: And I think there’s so much to do with both nonprofits and parents and sleep is that you’re bogged down in the weeds. Sometimes you’re unable to get a clear view of what is happening, how to sometimes even test it, and then gather the data and the
Alex: There was a debate in the hospital patient safety space for a while about five years ago, where the discussion of how do we improve patient safety was being debated, of do we take the time to conduct these either controlled experiments or, you know
Tasha: Yeah, And I mean, not all nonprofits are in a space, obviously, where life and death decisions are getting made because that is that’s huge. And if anything, there should be more care and attention and obviously budget put towards those kinds of d
Alex: And parents that we have to be willing to try things and give it enough time, but also make sure that we’re measuring in the outcome that we’re hoping for to see if we’re getting it.
Tasha: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So I was trying to think what else In the same vein, I was trying to think what we talked about a little bit in the past. But I think it all ties together in that this taught me that flexibility is key. Yes. Yeah
Alex: One of the things I’ve had to learn to be really flexible about as well is the whole like minimum viable product thing. Like with my kids, I love to cook and I love to bake and they both expressed interest in joining me and those endeavors, and esp
Tasha: Absolutely.
Alex: I’ve had to really work on just saying, you know what? However this picture pans out, we’ll be okay. Like I’m going to be flexible enough, but it’s just a cake if I end up having to make it again. Okay, thank you. But with that perfectly round or l
Tasha: Absolutely. And so just out of curiosity, but like, what’s your thoughts on how much data to collect? Because I think that’s even a real challenge for nonprofits where it’s like scrolls with not. So we’re going to collect it. All right. It was nev
Alex: I think is that ties to the second lesson I’ve had to learn with my kids about you picking your battles. Which health are you going to die on first? What are you going to let go? And it’s the same conversation with how much data do you collect and
Tasha: Yeah, absolutely. And like our team does a lot of donation form optimization work that, you know, looking into email cadence, how many emails is the best number of emails? And, you know, is there a call to action in all emails or are some of them
Alex: You bring up a great point that there is a cost to collecting data. There is a cost to whoever is putting the data. There could be a cost actually where you turn a donor away.
Tasha: Yeah, in.
Alex: The name of trying to collect too much data. And again, the same way that there is a cost every time I have a fight with my kids over doing something right, there is an emotional cost. There’s a relationship strain in terms of on both me, I don’t l
Tasha: Yeah, absolutely. And actually trying remember Aynsley Fender and she’s kind of in the grant management space, has some really great conversations frequently around the idea of is a grant worth it. Like even once you apply which is its own huge co
Alex: And it’s a real question to ask.
Tasha: It is absolutely just even like, I mean the training capacity to. Right, Because now I’m at the point where I would say my training capacity as a parents, you know, although I kind of laugh because now I am great with like 16 month old baby is lik
Alex: As my son has gotten older? Exactly. To that point, like realizing there are limits to my expertise on things that may actually benefit him. And so, like I signed him up for chess Club at school because he was super interested in learning how to do
Tasha: Absolutely. I mean, I very much have sunk time and energy into things afterwards where I’m going. I’ve only ever going to be just like middle of the road at this. This is clear. I am never going to be I. That is something that I think with age as
Alex: Yep, absolutely. I know one of the other things that both with parenting and with nonprofits and it is the same question of, well, my child’s unique. No other child like mine. So like what else? Who could possibly have anything to teach me about my
Tasha: Yeah, So I think that hearkens back to there was for years there was kind of a everyone’s a special snowflake. No one’s a special snowflake. But, you know, we kind of go back and forth in our comfort level with personalization. And I think there’s
Alex: I was thinking about the difference in when you use data for donation outreach similar to thinking about my son in kindergarten because this is his first year in public schools. He’s been in kindergarten. He’s one of 24 in his class with a single t
Tasha: Well, something that can be really challenging when we’re talking about data, and I think it’s even a part of the nonprofit discomfort with data in general because a lot of nonprofit individuals, very passionate, very driven, there’s a lot of feel
Alex: Agreed. This is one of the things that I spend as much time as I can in any education opportunity I get in conversations with nonprofits of saying, Where is data appropriate? Yeah, where do we use data most effectively and where does it not belong?
Tasha: Yeah.
Alex: Yeah. And trying to help nonprofits understand that the data is not there to tell you what to do. The data is there to give you some key information that probably won’t even be everything you need to know. I still need to know how to drive. I need
Tasha: Terrible idea, terrible idea.
Alex: Like, totally without missing a beat. That would be a terrible idea, Mom. You know, I would just crash the car because, in fact, I can’t even reach the pedals and I don’t know which way the steering wheel goes.
Tasha: There’s so there’s such a honesty with her. And sometimes. Right. Like, I’m always blown away. Sometimes it was like I remember watching Kids Say the Darndest Things when I was like a teenager and being like, I never said anything this foolish. An
Alex: Like kids data are labors of love.
Tasha: Labors of love. Can you have that look? That’s that should be your like, LinkedIn byline, right? Like, that’s the sales pitch right there, right? Labors of love. That data is a labor of love. But I do think if you do it right and you take the time
Alex: I love it. Well, thank you so much for an amazing conversation. I know that we could talk for hours and hours, so I very much appreciate your time today and I look forward to meeting conversations like this in the future.
Tasha: Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s super fun and I enjoy your expertise on the subject of data because it’s something I’m constantly, you know, dipping my toes into. But your expertise on it is awesome. I’m glad there’s someone out there
Alex: Well, thank you so much. Okay. That was Tasha Van Vlack. And I hope that you enjoyed our conversation as much as I did. There are so many lessons that we have learned from being parents. And even if you listening aren’t a parent, there are so many lessons to learn!

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Tasha Van Vlack

Tasha Van Vlack is a relationship growth specialist at Yeeboo Digital – where she empowers nonprofits to ‘lead with digital’ and embrace new marketing, fundraising, and technology practices. When she isn’t chatting with nonprofit professionals she spends her time connecting with cool people on LinkedIn, writing content, creating customer journeys, and generally being pulled in ten directions. She is also a proud mom to 3 spirited children who keep her continuously on her toes. Connect with Tasha at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tasha-van-vlack/

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