The importance of data for nonprofits should not be underestimated in today’s modern world of work. In our digitally dominated and fast-paced atmosphere, all organizations (nonprofits included) need to harness the power of big data to enable more impactful and effective operational decision making. However, when analyzing the state of data in the nonprofit sector, it becomes apparent that data strategizing and management remain uncharted territory for most nonprofit organizations. In fact, a recent report from EveryAction and NonprofitHub stated that only 40 percent of nonprofit professionals say they frequently use data to aid their decision making, while 46 percent said they do not consistently use data to make decisions. However, this isn’t sustainable.
In this blog we will discuss the following topics to explain how a data-driven strategy can become a nonprofit’s greatest ally:
So what’s the big deal? Why is data management important at nonprofits, specifically? Here are just a few of the many benefits associated with implementing a streamlined data strategy for nonprofits:
With the right data strategy in place, nonprofits can properly analyze their past performance to inform their future decisions. By analyzing past performance, nonprofits can adjust their strategy to better determine how funding should be spent and create more informed outreach strategies to achieve their organizational goals.
Collecting and analyzing donor data gives nonprofits the ability to fully understand donor behavior. This data can be used to review campaign performance, helping nonprofits identify which digital channels are the best for donor outreach. Donor data also helps organizations improve their communication strategies and quickly remedy any issues that are hindering the donor experience.
Fundraising data allows organizations to discover trends and identify which operational practices are and aren’t working to bring in more donations. Taking a data-driven approach to fundraising allows nonprofits to spend their time and money targeting the donors who are most likely to contribute instead of wasting fundraising efforts on passive donors. Basically, having a data strategy allows nonprofits to accurately identify which prospects are most likely to give and outlines the best way to reach those prospects.
Fundamentally, a strong data strategy translates raw numbers and statistics into actionable insights. Here are some of the most critical nonprofit data management best practices:
Before you can identify which data you want to analyze, you should identify your KPIs. Here are a few common nonprofit KPIs:
Identifying which KPIs matter most to your organization allows you to focus on the data that will deliver critical insights into your donor preferences and behavior.
It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data you have access to. Thankfully, nonprofits don’t need to look at everything all the time. In the beginning stage of your data journey, it’s best to create a list of the most important data points to track in relation to your KPIs. This means tracking and analyzing data that enables better communication with your donors. Here are a few examples:
In reality, your data strategy is only as strong as your data software. To create a completely successful data strategy, your tech stack should include:
In our current moment, many data strategy roadmap examples cater to for-profit organizations and do not consider the unique needs of nonprofits. However, some positive changes are being made. For example, TechBridge recently released their guide to implementing a nonprofit data strategy. Here is what their template looks like:
Feeling a little overwhelmed? We don’t blame you. Creating a data strategy from scratch takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s well worth it. Plus, you can enlist our help. At CIM, we work as an extension of your team to create a data and technology strategy that will make it easier for you to make a greater impact in the communities you serve. Read more about what we can offer you below.
Creating a data strategy for nonprofits is a complex and monumental task. But don’t let that deter you, we’re here to help. At CIM, we create, implement, and maintain your entire tech roadmap so you can focus on fulfilling your mission. From strategy to training your volunteers, we will support you at every stage of your tech journey. Connect with us today and we’ll answer any and all questions you might have.