You have almost unlimited data at your fingertips thanks to the dynamic reporting tools available with ACTIVEWorks Class & Camps Manager. This is exciting, but also overwhelming! If you don’t leverage and share important selections from this data, you’ll miss some huge opportunities. But where should you possibly begin?
Define a guiding question
A guiding question can look like this:
- Should our camp build another cabin this year to increase camper capacity?
- What types of individuals are most likely to donate to our scholarship program?
- Where should I focus my marketing efforts for day camp next summer?
- Which factors best predict camper re-enrollment?
Notice that guiding questions don’t have conclusions baked in; they are open-ended enough to really listen to what the data you have might tell you. You can think of your data as evidence that will help you answer your guiding question.
Make a list of sub-questions—and follow up with research!
Let’s take one of the above guiding questions as an example: Where should I focus my marketing efforts for day camp for next summer?
If this is your guiding question, here are some sub-questions that will help you determine what data will be helpful. Conveniently, you can easily access reports that answer these questions through Camp & Class Manager’s reporting tools:
- What zip codes are most represented at my camp?
- What schools are most represented at my camp?
- At what age do campers most likely register for camp for the first time?
- What referral sources are most common for first-time campers?
- What month of the year is most common for first-time camper registration?
- When do returning campers typically re-enroll?
Once you start to look for data that answers your sub-questions, you can start to draw some conclusions–or come up with more questions to explore. The data will help you figure out what questions to ask and what else you need to learn.
For instance, why may certain “feeder” schools be more represented at your camp? Is it because a teacher at one of the schools also works at the camp and drives many referrals? Is it because those schools are physically close to your camp and it’s a convenient location for caregivers? Is it because these schools already have many of your campers attending, so there is a lot of chatter about the programs in parent groups? The data will help you ask these important questions so you can prepare the best marketing plan possible.
Include the data when you tell your story!
Almost always, we need to tell stories about camp. Whether we are telling a story to a parent about why they should register their kid, describing the impact of camp to a potential donor, or convincing our board of directors to build that new dining hall, stories help us get our points across. However, our stories can be even stronger and more impactful if we have data to back them up. Let’s take the example from the second step above, where you're asking the question of how to best market your camp programs.
If you work for a parent organization, you might need to pitch your marketing plan to your boss or board. Imagine yourself, in your pitch, making statements like:
“Eighty-five percent of our first-time campers are rising first or second graders. Eight out of 10 of them come from Elmwood, Dexter, and Richard Elementary Schools. Looking at enrollment in these elementary schools has shown that we are already capturing 50% of the eligible first-time campers at these schools. Thus, I think the word is very much ‘out’ at these schools about our camp. Therefore, it would be more strategically sound to focus our marketing efforts on rising first and second graders at Lucas and Johnson Elementary schools, which are the same driving distance from camp as our most popular feeder schools but only represent 5% of our camper population.”
Then, you can share an anecdote about a potential camper family that supports your plan as a form of qualitative evidence.
Many camp directors will share anecdotes but not have quantitative evidence to back up their decision-making. Your ability to ask a strong guiding question, develop sub-questions, and draw conclusions from the data will sharpen your decision-making skills, and your ability to communicate these conclusions in a clear and compelling way will help you get others on board.