Ignite Philanthropy acquires data analytics firm Blue Fox LLC 

Expands data analytics and management solutions for nonprofits and charitable foundations 

Ignite Philanthropy has recently acquired Blue Fox LLC, a data solutions company. The stated goal of the merger is to help Ignite, as an organization, “manage, analyze, and leverage data to improve donor relationships and inform community funding decisions. ”

Ignite Philanthropy is a company serving nonprofit and charitable organizations through fundraising and strategic consulting, grantmaking and staffing services. In 2021, Ignite raised more than $70 million for its nonprofit clients and guided $11 million in community grantmaking on behalf of its private and family foundation clients. The company was recognized by the Cincinnati Business Courier in 2020 as a Fast 55 company.

20 years of nonprofit data management

Blue Fox founder Will Lester has joined Ignite’s team of 22 employees as its vice president of data services, and he will lead a newly launched division – Ignite Data Services. Lester founded Blue Fox in 2017 and has served hundreds of arts and cultural, advocacy and social service organizations throughout North America. He brings more than 20 years of nonprofit data management consulting experience to Ignite, having earned a master of science in customer analytics from Xavier University’s Williams College of Business.  His academic and freelance connections allow Lester to call on “really high-end skills” when needed.

Data analytics key to Ignite’s success

According to Scott Provancher, president & CEO of Ignite, “All the work we do with nonprofits in helping them fundraise has been informed by a deep analysis of their donor base and understanding the community and potential for contributions – data really informs all our strategies. Will has been the data expert behind a lot of those analytics. It became clear that if we came together we could co-invest in expanding our services to the sector.”

Lester pioneered an array of sector-specific data services while leading Blue Fox, and these will now be available to nonprofits and foundations through Ignite Data Services.  These data services now include: 

  • database list management and segmentation
  • demographic research and customer profile modeling
  • trend analysis and response tracking
  • donor and patron behavior analysis
  • customer loyalty modeling
  • nonprofit sector research and trend analysis
  • impact measurement and predictive modeling

According to Lester, by bringing Blue Fox under the Ignite umbrella, he can focus his energies on what he does best and enjoys most – help clients to use and manage their data more effectively. “There are going to be great efficiencies and innovation for our clients by joining forces with Ignite,” he said.

This acquisition is a matter of broadening Ignite’s offerings and enhancing the company’s ability to better serve the sector. And offering data-specific services will allow Ignite to work with organizations, locally and nationally, that otherwise might not have previously. 

A partnership long in the making

Prior to the recent acquisition, Ignite had partnered with Blue Fox for more than five years to help provide specialized fundraising data analytics and sector insights to inform and drive its client campaigns and fundraising strategies. Two recent examples of successful, data-driven, community efforts are The Freestore Foodbank’s $30-plus million Growing Beyond Hunger Campaign and Bethany House’s $20-plus million One Step Closer to Home campaign. 

While the two companies have partnered for years, the conversations reportedly grew serious within the past six months.

“Ignite and Blue Fox has been talking about doing something together for a while now,” Lester said.

“The last six months we really got serious. As our conversations progressed, it became clear that one plus one equals five,” said Provancher.

The ultimate goal is helping nonprofits better understand what motivates and retainsdonors and helping foundations better understand how their investments are making an impact. 

According to Provancher, an initial challenge in consulting with nonprofits of all sizes is helping organizations create and manage databases in a way that allows for easy and meaningful analysis; making sure information is accurate and up-to-date is the first step. 

An affordable, local solution

“We can’t provide effective consulting without having really good data to begin with,” Provancher said.” With Blue Fox in-house, “We can now offer an intimate, local solution that doesn’t have to be insanely expensive.”

An important first step in working with each nonprofit, according to Lester, is to assess the situation: “What is the state of their data? What housekeeping is needed?” 

Once data optimization is achieved, the next step is to show clients how to unlock the potential of the collected information they already possess.

“What is the nature of the relationships they have?” Lester asked. “What are giving histories that might help predict and prescribe next steps?” 

“There is a lot of work to be done in the sector around understanding impact,” he added. “Are we serving the right communities?”

Complementary, but separate services

Previously, data has informed strategies and decisions Ignite has employed. Now, with the addition of Blue Fox, Ignite can offer services that directly affect the quality, understanding and interpretation of information an organization possesses. And those services do not have to be tied to a fundraising or grantmaking consultancy. Ignite Data Services is a stand-alone division.


This content sponsored by Ignite Philanthropy.

Discover more from Movers & Makers

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.