When a Mentor Becomes the Mentee

I just finished working on a web analytics project through the Analysis Exchange. It was a great experience and so I wanted to take this time to encourage other web analysts to consider donating the time and expertise as well.
First, after signing up with the exchange, I was matched with the Myelin Repair Foundation–the world’s largest research organization looking for the next generation of MS treatments. Coincidentally, I have two people in my life who both suffer from MS and was thrilled to be able to work with a group that is working so hard to help people like Sylvie and Derek. The foundation has a full-time employee working on the site’s web analytics, but they needed some extra guidance on working with the conversions. After initial consultations, we decided to focus on good alternatives to their existing system in order to track conversion to it’s conclusion.Next, I worked closely with Matt, the Analysis Exchange student web analyst. As a mentor, it was important that I didn’t just take over, but rather use guidance and instruction to help Matt expand his understanding. I think this was one of the most valuable lessons that I learned: how to instruct and teach more than grabbing the reigns and controlling the whole project. In the for-profit world, people hire me to do the web analytics FOR them. What a change this was!
Finally, after a quick two-week period, we presented our final results to Justine’s boss. In the process, I learned a few interesting items about non-profit web analytics:

  1. Non-profit donation systems are not web analytics friendly
  2. While Google Checkout will wave the processing fees, they don’t have the functionality needed for non-profit donation tracking
  3. Just like for profit companies of the same size, non-profits find it hard to justify a full time analyst even though that position usually pays for itself many times over

While my brief time with Myelin Repair Foundation was beneficial to them–and we are looking at working on more projects together in the future–I truly gained a new understanding and appreciation for the challenges that non-profits organizations have with web analytics. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!

2 thoughts on “When a Mentor Becomes the Mentee”

  1. What a wonderful contribution. Thank you for doing what you did. It’s a sad reality that all organizations, both for profit and non-profit, are incredibly lean and mean these days. The challenge you have is similar to a challenge I had at my last high tech company – positioning your offerings as a must-have aspirin rather than a nice-to-have vitamin. People will pay for that must-have aspirin even if the nice-to-have vitamin offers more benefits. I’d love to brainstorm on this with you and others, if that would be helpful.

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