Best use of FastStats® 2014 Award

Using FastStats to create better targeted campaigns to create stronger long-term relationships with supporters

Company overview

The Children’s Society helps change children’s stories, working towards a country where all children are free from disadvantage.

They've been trusted for over a century to drive change locally and nationally and provide support where it’s needed most. They base this vital work on the experiences of every child they help and the solid evidence they gather.

Every year, they work directly with more and more of the most disadvantaged children. They do this through their extensive network of frontline services, supported by an army of volunteers. Together, they tackle child poverty and neglect head on, from helping families trapped in debt, child runaways and young carers, to stopping child sexual exploitation.

They are brave in their actions: uncovering desperate situations, exposing injustice and addressing hard truths to improve children’s lives. Through their ambitious campaigns and determination to put children at the centre, they challenge misconceptions, change attitudes and influence government policy.

Since the day they were founded by Sunday school teacher Edward Rudolf, they’ve been at the forefront of pioneering change for children. They opened the UK’s first residential children’s care home and first safe house for runaways. They were instrumental in securing free school meals for all infant school children living in poverty.

Today, as always, they are ambitious for all children. They are determined, through their campaigning, commitment and care, to give every child the greatest possible chance in life.


Campaign selections took weeks, consuming the majority of the data teams’ time. The most complex took 5 weeks to produce due to the complexity of individual supporters needing to be selected on their own activities and on the activities of related organisational supporters.

Fundraisers had little access to data or any supporter insights. Therefore they knew little about their supporters or the nature of the relationships they held with the organisation.

The complex supporter roles logic was held within the SQL layer. Confidence in the accuracy and the ability to maintain this code was low, resulting in the supporter role information not being maintained regularly.

The FastStats system has delivered a solid platform from which to deliver key analytical insights. All of this was unimaginable before implementation of FastStats


The Children's Society has an overall objective to “empower fundraising and marketing teams to generate their own reports and campaign analysis in a timely manner whilst freeing up the Insight Team to undertake more interrogative analysis. This insight will then help The Children's Society to deliver better targeted campaigns, and help it engage with all supporters in a more meaningful, mutually beneficial way." 

  • Reduce reliance on staff with SQL skills
  • Understand what supporters look like
  • Identify cross sell opportunities

Adroit Data & InsightSolution

FastStats Structure

In order to meet the objectives, Adroit designed an innovative FastStats structure which allows users to produce the complex selections, where individual supporters are selected based on the activities of linked organisation supporters. It was also imperative that “n-per” limits can be applied to only select the top x individuals linked to an organisation based on a flexible hierarchy. By moving this into FastStats it removed the need for the user to understand and create the joins, and produced logic which was easier to understand and debug, especially as the results were returned immediately. This has reduced the level of skill required to produce the selections, thus reducing a serious business continuity risk from the reliance on a small number of individuals.

Design StructureDesigner

In order to allow users to select supporters based on criteria on linked supporter records, they duplicated the FastStats design underneath a pre-existing relationships table, which identified the related supporters, and the relationship type. For each relationship, there are two records within the relationship table, with 1 record linked from the first supporter, and the second a reciprocal of the first with the record linked off the second supporter. 

As supporters could have multiple relationships, in some cases with the same supporter, a compound key was applied within Designer to ensure all relationships had the relevant transactions populated for the related supporter.

This structure allows users to select supporters based on transactional criteria of their related supporters without needing to consider the required relational joins as was the case within the previous SQL approach, thus lowering the skill requirement to produce these complex selections.

In order to meet the very specific criteria of applying an “n-per” to an organisation within a flexible hierarchy, the classic approach to deploying FastStats functionality was adapted in a highly creative way. To carry out these selections, they used the “relationships” as a pseudo-supporter table.

  • Firstly selections are made at the relationship level to define the hierarchy groups, which formed the basis of a flag-array variable.
  • The next step was to create selections for each segment at the relationship level (as a pseudo for supporters), applying an n per to the parent supporter and using the hierarchy variable for the ordering. Without this innovative design, it would have been impossible to apply the required “n-per” criteria to individuals linked to the organisation.
  • These segment selections were then placed into a selector variable in order to identify which segment code the related supporter falls into.
  • Finally this variable was used to generate a .csv file containing the “related ID” & the segment code, which was then used as the basis for a Data Import variable, and matched to the main supporter level (mapped on Supporter ID to Related ID) to bring the segment selections to the main supporter level. This allowed supporter selections with a hierarchy and “n-per” applied to be created at the main supporter level, which was then combined with other supporter level selections and de-duplicated through Cascade

Migrating away from SQL

One of the requirements of the FastStats system was to reduce the reliance on staff with SQL skills. Therefore it was required that the supporter roles update process migrated into FastStats. Adroit transferred this logic into FastStats and developed a process to make the maintenance of supporter roles quick and easy, whilst giving the data team the ability to update the role definitions.

Understanding Supporters

One of the issues faced by The Childrens Society is the lack of understanding of what their supporters look like, and indeed the profiles of supporters who migrated from one relationship to others, thus limiting the effectiveness of cross-sell activity. In order to tackle this issue Adroit put in place several Excelsior reports, including a Supporter Profiling tool and a Supporter Role Migration Profiling Tool.

Outcomes & Results

Although still at the beginning of the journey, the foundations already put into place have provided significant benefits.

  • This innovative FastStats design has delivered significant process gains, driving down the time needed for campaign selection by well over 50%, freeing up the data team to concentrate on delivering key actionable insights to the fundraising teams.
  • This clever design has also removed the need to carry out the most complex selections within SQL, thus removing the reliance on a small number of individuals, whilst lowering the skills requirement to produce these selections.
  • Control of the strategic supporter roles definitions has been handed back to the fundraisers, as they can now easily update, understand and maintain the supporter roles.
  • The FastStats system has delivered a solid platform from which to deliver key analytical insights. The creative use of FastStats & Excelsior in developing the interactive supporter profiling tools has already delivered key understandings back to the marketing teams, and is shaping effective cross-selling strategies.
  • The data team can now develop stronger relationships with fundraisers, enabling a real focus on internal customer service. This has dramatically improved the reputation of a team that had previously experienced low satisfaction scores.
  • The inherent stability in the data structures brought on by FastStats has given assurance to trustees and senior leaders who previously viewed their ability to undertake database driven fundraising as a serious business risk. Transforming the data team so spectacularly in such a short space of time has been a cause of much celebration and relief.

Adroit have been adept in turning round projects to very tight timescales – both on the technical implementation of FastStats and the delivery of innovative, user-friendly and flexible Excelsior reports for fundraisers. The Children's Society will be building on this success by developing a dynamic Excelsior driven income forecasting tool to sharpen the budgeting of regular giving income (a significant revenue stream). This will capitalise on newly discovered insights that FastStats has enabled the data team to unearth. They will also harness the modelling module in producing legacy propensity models and innovative targeting approaches that will drive up future legacies and boost campaign responses. All of this was unimaginable before implementation of FastStats.