Generating Meaningful Statistics (A Continuation of Averages are Awesome but Medians May be More Meaningful)

If you read last week’s blog, you’ll remember that I waxed rhapsodic about medians, and a wee bit about other common statistical calculations. I also promised to provide step-by-step instructions for how to produce this data using ResultsPlus and other tools you already know and have. Here goes (in alphabetical order)!

Averages: In addition to several reports that contain this type of data, you can take any query in ResultsPlus and obtain an average. Any time you print a list of constituents in ResultsPlus, you have the opportunity to turn that list into a report. The wizard that allows you to do this is called the Quick Report Wizard. From within the wizard, you can add an average for any numeric field:

Summary Average

The steps to get to the above screen are as follows:

  1. Run your query.
  2. Right-click on the Retrieved Records screen (or click the Constituent tab of the ribbon), and select “Print list of constituents…” from the context menu.
  3. Right-click the column for which you wish to obtain the Average and select “Insert Summary…”

Maximums: While some of the reports contain this data, it is also easily obtained for any query’s worth of data by using the Quick Report Wizard:

Summary Maximum

The steps to get to the above screen are the same as they are for Averages (above).

A maximum isn’t terribly valuable on its own unless you’re looking to find the donor who gave the largest gift in order to talk with this person, assuming it isn’t an estate gift. However, a list of your largest donors can be helpful when identifying people with the potential to make lead gifts for new campaigns.

Medians: The 5 Year Trend Summaries report contains year-over-year comparisons of both averages and medians on s single chart as shown here (Ideally, you want to see both trending upwards):

Median Chart

Medians are a bit tricky, though, because they are dependent on counting to a specific row of your data and then getting the value from a field in that row. Because of this, medians are bit harder to make easily available from the Quick Report Wizard. But never fear, here’s an easy way to generate a median by sending your query results to Excel and identifying the median there:

  1. Run your query in ResultsPlus.
  2. Right-click the list of retrieved records and select Export|To Excel…
  3. Place your cursor in the column for which you wish to identify a median.
  4. Click the Function (Fx) tool above the worksheet.
  5. Choose Median from the list of functions. (Excel will handle the sorting for you).

 Minimums: Similar to maximums, here’s a screen of how to add minimums to any query:

Summary Minimum

The steps to get to the above screen are the same as they are for Averages (above).

As with the maximum, the minimum as a standalone value isn’t very meaningful, especially if you are an organization that gets in-kind ($0) gifts. Where it might be interesting is used in conjunction with age to see if you have a contingent of high school or college students, for example, who are raising awareness about your organization. This is something you can nurture and grow into larger groups of people in that age range through programs specifically aimed for that.

Totals: There are multiple types of totals. Most of the ResultsPlus reports offer various ways to slice and dice data to obtain totals. Also, you can do the same thing with any query. The following screen shows how to include total counts and sums (total amounts) for queries:

Summary Total

The steps to get to the above screen are the same as they are for Averages (above). Both of these totals are pretty obviously valuable. Much like averages and medians, you’d like to see these trending upward.

Now that you’ve read a few examples, I bet you can think of many, many more uses for these metrics that I haven’t even thought of!