Gain sanity by managing your passwords

We are all constantly signing into and out of accounts. There are personal logins, business accounts, highly-sensitive stuff like bank accounts, or less-sensitive. Often times when helping people out, we get tripped up by having to remember account information — or having to reset a password because we just can’t. In the end, what I hear is that we can’t be bothered or a flippant “who would want to steal my Consumer Reports password?”

There are a few problems:

  1. Forgetting a password
  2. Loosing track of accounts
  3. Using the same password across accounts (often with the same user name)
  4. Using a poorly constructed password (e.g. password, 12345)
  5. Using a password after an account or service has been hacked or compromised
  6. Using passwords for an account you share with others

This post is for those of you not yet using a password manager. There are a few things you can do to help mitigate future issues, like two-step or two-factor authentication, but the smartest place to start seems to be managing our passwords.

(Worth pointing out, I use log-in and sign-in interchangeably. When I say “credentials”, I am referring to your user name and password, or whatever is required by a particular service to access said account.)

What is a Password Manager?

A password manager is an app, a single place, where you can store and access your account information. You may already have a password manager in the form of a notebook or an entry in the Notes app. A password manager is like that, but on steroids. Not only does it store this information, but it allows you to easily access the information where you need it. It also helps you create new passwords, so you don’t have to come up with one on your own. 

Which password manager should I use?

I am a fan of 1Password, but there are several options out there. 

Two places I recommend starting are The Wirecutter and The Sweet Setup. I highly recommend reading their articles on this topic. (At the time of this writing, The Wirecutter updated their review to place 1Password as a runner up — to competitor LastPass — noting excellent security, great for macOS and iOS users, but lacking some features for non-Apple systems.)

Passphrases. Not passwords.
While we’re at it, I also want to emphasize that a strong password is not a word. It is a string of characters that best attempts to make guessing or discovering your credentials — whichever technique they employ — as difficult as possible. This is where password managers are essential. Creating a unique string for each and every account you create is seemingly exhausting and how in the world are you to remember all those? The beauty is you don’t have to.

The Six Problems

In the beginning, I listed six problems. I want to go through each of these to give a little more context and try to show how a password manager addresses each of these.

1. Forgetting a password

Mostly, this is just an annoying experience we have all gone through — before password managers that is. Remembering passwords can be tricky, especially as sites have become more proactive over the last few years in requiring you to update them periodically. You may have even been told, while updating your password, that your new password “has been used before” and you have to come up with yet another. Password managers complete solve this by not only storing this information, but also helping you to generate a new one.

2. Loosing track of accounts

Ever gone to a shopping site and decide, “sure, I’ll create an account” as you purchase those boots only to find out that your email address already exists? Do you remember making an account at LLBean? Apparently you did. Similarly as before, password managers track not only the user names and passwords, but also the names and URLs of the accounts you have created. Get to a site like this and just launch your password manager to see your previous entries. (And if you find yourself having to hit the “forgot my password” button, now you can reset it using that password manager so you’ll never have to do it again.)

3. Using the same password across accounts (often with the same user name)

Yes, you do this. It’s convenient, right? You read this and said *I already have one password*.  And you use it *everywhere*, right? Now, you might not care about how secure your Yahoo! account is, it’s not like they have your credit card information or anything. But let’s look at what happens. [Yahoo! gets hacked]. (They were, in fact, in 2013 and 2014, but you didn’t find out until 2016.) Someone has your account information and not only do they use it to gain access to your account with Yahoo! they try it out on many other commonly used sites because, like you, so many of us use a single password across multiple services. Now, they have access to something you really care about. A password manager can generate unique passwords so you don’t have to come up with those passwords on your own. It will also tell you how old your password is, indicating when you might consider updating your credentials.

4. Using a poorly constructed password (e.g. password, 12345)

Not only do you need a password you can remember, you need one you can enter quickly. You’ve heard that password length is tied to how secure a password is, but you don’t have time to enter some 32-character password each time. Not only with a password manager generate these lengthier, more secure passwords, but through app integrations from the likes of 1Password, all you need to do is authenticate with 1Password and — poof! — your user name and password fills in automatically.

5. Using a password after an account or service has been hacked or compromised

You aren’t nerdy enough to be reading the internet waiting for hacker news. You might not even be reading the newspaper. That’s okay. Password managers have some features to help alert you to certain types of web security issues. 1Password launched Watch Tower to help with certain types of attacks. You can also do your best to update your passwords on a routine, annual basis. The password manager can show you passwords that are more than 1 year or 3 years old. You know, so when you set your clocks back and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, just go in and update the passwords to some of your most used, most sensitive accounts.

6. Using passwords for an account you share with others

You don’t live alone. Or maybe you do? You share an account with a family member, then. However it happens, you may find that you share an account with someone else on a regular basis. Your spouse and your kid uses your Amazon account. Your kids and your sister use your Netflix account. What happens when you need to update your password? In a dark turn, what happens if a love one in your household passes away? How do you get to their accounts? Password managers can assist here, too. You have your own private vault, but with a family account you can create shared password vaults (like folders for your passwords) so if one of you has to update account information, you can do so without upsetting the other the next time they try to log-in and can’t. 1Password even allows you to upload secure documents, like a digital safety deposit box. (My Dad’s will is saved in mine.)

3 quick hacks to be more data-driven

This post originally appeared on Gravyty.

People in fundraising are always asking us if there is a quick fix — a silver bullet. I’m afraid to report: there isn’t, contrary to what some say. Fear not though, with the availability of data and power of experimentation, there are a few things you might try.

January can be a quiet month. So, this may be a good opportunity for your organization to explore data-driven decision making if you never have – or brush up on useful techniques. It also gives you a way to begin (re)introducing data to your colleagues in a small and meaningful way. And better yet, these are all things you can accomplish in a single day.

Those with the luxury of a manageable prospect list find themselves manually reviewing their prospects, identifying their own priorities based on things like lifetime giving and location. But how do you do this if you’re managing an annual fund, a larger subgroup, or a constituency list thousands long?

Here are three things that come to mind:


Get a lay of the land and go beyond treating everyone as a donor, LYBUNT, or SYBUNT. Start creating actionable segments by forming a single score based on recency, frequency, and monetary attributes. Secondly, you can easily share and communicate your findings by creating a chart.

I have some Excel functions you can use that looks at recency and frequency — if you need the monetary, let me know. (At the time, we were only concerned with participation, how much someone gave was irrelevant; and the fiscal year ran July 1 – June 30.) You can find these functions here on my site. It requires three pieces of information: their year of graduation, the number of years of giving, and the date of their last gift. (For non-universities, year of graduation could be substituted with the year when a constituent first engaged with your organization.)

Use this score to visualize the information. This can be a powerful way to share your work with colleagues without getting wonky on them with numbers and formulas.

Here’s an example based on one I previously did for an organization:


Frequency and recency scores are calculated and mapped. At the intersection of reach score is a number, representative of the number of people with that score. I added color to help illustrate to my team what this means. In the bottom left corner are the folks who have never given. The upper right corner are folks who have never missed their annual gift.

The next time someone says, “I’m not worried, those people always give”, now you can have a better idea who those people are — the green area. Maybe your next communication acknowledges someone’s loyalty and shows your appreciation by saying “thank you”.

You can check out Fundraising Analytics by Joshua Birkholz as an additional resource.


You are sitting on a goldmine of information. Take email response data, for example. With a modern email delivery system, you can find:

who has received which content

who opened the email

who clicked which calls-to-action

So what does that mean?

Let’s ignore the open rate for now and focus on the click rate. What does this tell us? It signifies to you that a particular call-to-action or content was relevant to the individual. How can we use that to our advantage? Think of a time you may have shopped online, say with Amazon. They give you recommendations, “People who bought this also bought…” What if we could do the same thing for our donors?

Looking back at a specific email, you see there was an article on a recent event. We have a list of those who clicked on said article. Now, connect that content to a fundraising priority — or as a specific example within a general, unrestricted fund — and you’ve got yourself a targeted audience and message. Make your call-to-action (CTA) about support this priority and link to the online giving page.

Download and open (in Excel) your email response data for the email message you’re focusing on. Be sure to include the email address for each record.

Keep only those who clicked on a particular CTA from the email, i.e. sort by column containing the clicked-on data and remove anything that isn’t the CTA you’re targeting.

Use Excel and the VLOOKUP function to merge your email response data with your giving data.

Keep only those people who have not yet supported your organization, i.e. sort by current year giving and where this is greater than $0.00 remove them.

Craft the new message using the particular subject you determined, make a clear CTA asking for their support, and send this message to this select group of people. (Know that this could be a small list of people and that is okay.)

Look at the donation and email response data 36-hours after the message has been delivered. What did you discover?

IMPORTANT: As a more active follow up, you can use the new click data from this new message to develop a call list. For those who clicked on the CTA and did not make a gift yet, follow up with a friendly phone call. You’ve just used data to inform your call list for the day. It may only be 11 people, but those are 11 people who are engaged with your organization and will more than likely give you the time of day.


Another data point that often goes overlooked is the gift purpose. For those LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs, your donation system probably tracks where they directed their contribution.

Identify a list of those purposes

Relate — directly or indirectly — those gift purposes with existing purposes

Craft messaging around each of them, speaking directly to the donor prospect and acknowledging their past support, its impact on your organization, and how they can continue having that impact.

Gone is the day where we need to talk about the weather and the changing seasons in our introductory paragraph. You can confidently use your data to help deepen your relationship with that donor by getting directly to what matters to them. They gave to an art gallery last spring? Share with them the impact their gift had and how they can continue that impact this year.

You and your organization may benefit by more substantial tools and predictive analytics. But in the meantime, these are three low-tech wins you can pull off. You might even win over skeptical colleagues by demonstrating the power of your own data.

A Custom Excel Function To Calculate RF(M) Scores For Fundraisers

To accompany a guest post with Gravyty, I want to share an Excel function we wrote to take your entire constituency and generate a Recency-Frequency score for each individual.

This function is like other built-in functions you may have used in Excel, except that we’ve programmed it to do exactly what we want: determine the Recency-Frequency score for each individual donor record.

Recency-Frequency Score = Recency Score + Frequency Score

  • Recency-score function requires the last gift date
  • Frequency-score function requires a person’s year of graduation and how many years they have contributed

Then, just add these two numbers together.

It might sound complicated, but once you get through it it’s fairly simple. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to run these any time you wish. For more information, check out these links from Microsoft’s Office support pages:

  • Create formulas in Excel
  • Making calculations using functions in Excel
  • Create custom functions in Excel

I am happy to help where I can. Whether you need other custom functions or better understanding how these may benefit your organization, let me know.

Excel Function: recencyScore

Public Function recencyScore(r As Range) As Integer

    Dim lastdonate As Date

    Dim donatefiscal As Integer

    Dim currentfiscal As Integer

    Dim d As Integer

    lastdonate = CDate(r.Value)

    ‘ we assume fiscal years run from July to June. If that changes,

    ‘ this next line will need to be modified

    donatefiscal = IIf(Month(lastdonate) <= 6, Year(lastdonate) – 1, Year(lastdonate))

    currentfiscal = IIf(Month(Now()) <= 6, Year(Now()) – 1, Year(Now()))

    d = currentfiscal – donatefiscal

    ‘Has never made a gift

    If Not IsDate(r.Value) Then

        recencyScore = 0

    ‘Has made an FY15 gift

    ElseIf d = 0 Then

        recencyScore = 20

    ‘Gave last year

    ElseIf d = 1 Then

        recencyScore = 20

    ‘Gave 2 year ago

    ElseIf d = 2 Then

        recencyScore = 15

    ‘Gave 3 years ago

    ElseIf d = 3 Then

        recencyScore = 10

    ‘Gave 4 years ago

    ElseIf d = 4 Then

        recencyScore = 5

    ‘Gave 5 years ago

    ElseIf d = 5 Then

        recencyScore = 2

    ‘Gave more than 5 years ago

    ElseIf d > 5 Then

        recencyScore = 1

    ‘Error score


        recencyScore = -1

    End If

End Function

Excel Function: freqScore

Public Function freqScore(giftCount As Integer, classYear As Integer) As Integer

    Dim freqP As Double

    ‘Calculate the frequency ratio

    ‘# years a gift has been made divided by the total # years possible

    freqP = giftCount / (2014 – classYear)

    ‘Check to see if they have ever made a gift

    ‘If no gifts, then it’s zero

    ‘otherwise, continue

    If giftCount = 0 Then

        freqScore = 0

    ElseIf freqP >= 1 Then

        freqScore = 30

    ElseIf freqP >= 0.9 And freqP < 1 Then

        freqScore = 24

    ElseIf freqP >= 0.8 And freqP < 0.9 Then

        freqScore = 18

    ElseIf freqP >= 0.7 And freqP < 0.8 Then

        freqScore = 12

    ElseIf freqP >= 0.6 And freqP < 0.7 Then

        freqScore = 6

    ElseIf freqP < 0.6 Then

        freqScore = 3

    ‘Error score


        freqScore = -1

    End If

End Function