What comes to mind when you think of information technology for nonprofit organizations? Maybe the first thing you think about is nonprofit technology helpdesk services that ensure your team has the tech they need to operate. Or, you might think through tools like your website or customer relationship management (CRM) system that help you reach constituents and donors alike. We hope that solidifying a data strategy for nonprofits is also high on the list for you.
It’s not a stretch to say that data collection for nonprofit organizations is mission critical. Yet according to Salesforce’s 2021 Nonprofit Trends Report, 76% of nonprofits lack a clear data strategy to guide their work. If you’re one of those nonprofits that’s looking to build out a strategy, keep reading to find out why data is so important to your work and how to determine the data that is the most important for you to collect.
The importance of data for nonprofits can be seen in almost every facet of an organization.
How can your organization ensure that you’re benefiting from data? It all begins by gathering the right information.
Nonprofits should collect any data that helps them further their mission, fundraising goals, outreach strategies, and more. Because of this, you’ll need to decide exactly what data points make sense for your organization. Use the list below as a jumping off point to help determine the right information to collect and maintain.
Having thorough nonprofit fundraising data can help strengthen your relationships with charitable givers. With the right information, you can ensure that the messaging your donors receive is tailored to their concerns, that you’re sending it to them through their preferred channels, and that they can donate in the way that makes sense for them. Here are some key pieces of information to ensure you gather.
It’s not enough to simply have this information though, you need to be able to use it. At Computers in Ministry (CIM), we help nonprofits with data solutions, like a CRM, that fit their needs and budget.
Whether you’re running advanced digital marketing campaigns, sending direct mail campaigns, managing organic social media posts, or developing website content, there is data to be had. Tracking marketing data can help your team identify what’s working, what’s not, and make a plan to develop better or more relevant marketing collateral. Here are a few data points to track.
For any campaign, whether it’s virtual or in person, tracking data can help organizations identify what their engagement was like, whether they met their goals, and what they might do differently in the future. Here are some common campaign metrics to track.
For nonprofit organizations that offer programming for constituents, tracking data regarding program participation and outcomes is critical. This is especially true for grant-funded programs that often require tracking as a part of ongoing progress reports, but this data can be used in many ways, including to illustrate effectiveness to stakeholders. The information you track for this will be unique to your programs, but here are some general data points to consider.
Finally, nonprofit organizations must track and retain financial data. When developing a data collection plan for financial records, it is critical that your policies follow state and federal compliance for record keeping and retention. How many years should a nonprofit keep financial records? It depends on the record. Some, like IRS Form 990 tax returns must be retained permanently, while others only require 3- or 7-year retention. While not exhaustive, here is a brief list of financial records to maintain:
At Computers in Ministry, we believe that data and technology has the power to transform your organization and drive your mission to new heights. We offer CIO and CTO services, end user services, and training services to help mission-driven organizations get the most out of their technology investment.
To help us better understand your mission, our partnerships always start with a roadmap to identify where you are, where you want to go, and what kinds of tools and services are needed to help you get there. Ready to find out more? Explore our services or reach out to us. We can’t wait to hear from you.