At Event 360, a fundraising and consulting firm for nonprofits, the staff half jokingly says, “$750 million? We’re just getting started.” Raising millions for its clients is an impressive start for a firm founded just 10 years ago by MS in Predictive Analytics student Jeff Shuck. Shuck, who also earned his MBA at Northwestern, never intended to make analytics a core function of his enterprise — until unprecedented new streams of data became an inextricable part of his field.
“At Event 360, we’re very passionate about our mission to help clients sell meaningful change,” says Shuck. “That means we must be committed to how technology impacts fundraising. We’d been relying on databases and modeling essential to mobilizing donors and driving revenue. But I felt limited by our capabilities, which means we were limited in what we could offer clients.”
Shuck desired a systematic approach to his analytics education. He wanted the value of “a great university like Northwestern,” but needed some flexibility. Shuck had already logged many hours in a challenging MBA program, not to mention the time and travel spent growing his firm. He had promised his family that a new degree would not keep him away from home. The fully online format of the predictive analytics program was a perfect fit, and he was pleased to find that it enabled deeper engagement.
“Do you have to be self-motivated in an online program? Absolutely,” he says. “But learning asynchronously allows more time to participate in useful, thoughtful discussion. In a traditional classroom, those moments come and go quickly, and then they’re lost. And this matters because you have a lot to learn from your classmates. My peers had many years of data and IT experience, whereas I had hardcore, real-world business, marketing and leadership experience. Everyone in the class has something to teach others.”
Shuck admits to “torturing” his colleagues with new ideas he has learned in the program. He has already applied new knowledge, such as time series analyses, to his firm’s event data tracking.
“You hear a lot about ‘big data,’ but nonprofits and those working toward social change have been slower to up their game,” he says. “Yet we are trying to command your attention in a world crowded with customized messages from big companies with sophisticated data tools. My master’s in predictive analytics gives me the kind of specialized knowledge that can help us fulfill our mission.”