A Grand Vision of What Donor Development Can Be Coming From, Um, Tax Preparation Software

We get letters–well, emails, anyway. (When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Nope, cards don’t count.)

An especially good email came in last week from one of the nonprofit leader champions I coach personally. It went like this:

I believe in TG wholeheartedly.  I appreciate and read and watch your material on the subject.  SPOT ON.  I apply the same philosophical concepts in all of my daily routine conversations with champions.  But when confronted with how to do a true get-out-the-chart coaching call I’m lost…. I think you are the best teacher I know and you have spent hours on me trying to help me comprehend and visualize doing a chart with someone….  I’m sure not the brightest guy on the block but I think I am average.  If an average guy cannot get it from the best coach in the nation I don’t have a lot of confidence of my success in coaching others.

Fresh off our post on vision earlier this week, I’ve been musing that the best way to help my earnest and honest champion move forward in his understanding of P/E/O may be through a picture of what P/E/O is intended to accomplish.

(By the way, P/E/O–which is short for Participation/Engagement/Ownership–is the operating system on which Transformational Giving runs. A couple of background posts–this one and this one–will help bring you up to speed on the subject.)

Strangely, the picture came from Seoul USA/.W COO Matt Dubois by way of a legal project management email he reads in which the writer, Paul C. Easton, was talking about tax preparation software and the Department of Defense.

You take inspiration wherever you can find it, y’know.

Here’s Paul’s fascinating “vision picture”:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently developing software to help military-mission planners make better decisions. The mission-optimization software program is titled OBTW, initials for “Oh By The Way,” and is inspired by the guided decision-making featured in tax-preparation software:

OBTW is inspired by modern software systems (e.g., tax preparation packages) that are capable of guiding novice users through a complex problem-solving environment to produce expert-level results. In the case of tax preparation software, tax code expertise is encoded and made available through a question-and-answer interface that enables taxpayers who possess only a very limited knowledge of tax code to produce tax returns that would otherwise require an expert-level understanding of tax code. The OBTW program seeks to extend this model to mission-planning environments that, unlike the tax domain, are neither well codified nor limited in scope. Still, the interface metaphor is compelling. OBTW aims to develop a software capability that can engage the user and make suggestions based upon stored expertise. For example, “Under the specified conditions, the safest, most effective evacuation is by helicopter. And oh, by the way, if you’re going to use helicopters, Unit X has three that appear to be available. And oh, by the way, you ought to consider flying at night, because….”

So what does this have to do with P/E/O?

Substituting a few words here and there into Paul’s post gives us a P/E/O “vision picture” that may help explain what we’re after with these P/E/O charts in the first place:

P/E/O is inspired by modern software systems (e.g., tax preparation packages) that are capable of guiding novice users through a complex problem-solving environment to produce expert-level results. In the case of tax preparation software, tax code expertise is encoded and made available through a question-and-answer interface that enables taxpayers who possess only a very limited knowledge of tax code to produce tax returns that would otherwise require an expert-level understanding of tax code. The P/E/O process seeks to extend this model to nonprofit causes that, unlike the tax domain, are neither well codified nor limited in scope. P/E/O aims to develop in the donor/champion a capability of getting involved in the cause at a surprisingly high level by providing a platform that makes advanced action easy while also making suggestions for participation, engagement, and ownership based upon the expertise and experience of the coach who is guiding the process.

Codifying and making accessible your expertise and experience to your champions in such a way that they can get involved in the cause at a surprisingly high level: that’s the purpose of–and the vision for–P/E/O.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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One Response to A Grand Vision of What Donor Development Can Be Coming From, Um, Tax Preparation Software

  1. Pingback: GM and NASA Improve Vehicle and Worker Safety with Robotic Technology | My Robot Weblog

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