Data maturity is no longer a goal only for the corporate world. Nonprofits are similarly pursuing — and achieving — data maturity, where organizational leaders use data to drive decision-making.
But many nonprofit boards are at an earlier stage of data maturity than they would like. Getting the right data to improve fundraising, measure impact and reach peak efficiency can seem too difficult, too expensive or both.
It isn’t. Unlocking and using data to drive success is achievable, as one college discovered when it wanted to improve its fundraising. By looking at data around six months of solicitation emails, a consultant helped the college identify the recipients most likely to open the messages and click on links, and, with a wealth-screening tool, further honed the list to likely donors.
The results were game-changing. “We found out that there were five people out of the 20 that, based on their capacity, could give a major gift to the university — which for them would be a gift of $25,000 or more annually,” the consultant told The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “So, within the first year of gift officers talking to these five people, we had one major gift come in — just from that one data set.”
By adopting data-driven decision-making, underpinned by technology, nonprofit boards can increase success to ensure their organizations make meaningful contributions to the communities they serve.
So how can boards use data — and technology tools to unlock it — to drive success?
Technology partnerships in data-driven decision-making
We covered some of the overarching benefits of using data for nonprofit success. Now, take a further look at how the right technology partnerships can enable these efforts.
One inspirational example is Biokind Analytics, started by a student at Rice University. An early interest in Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses led Alex Han to using analytics to support health care nonprofits. Biokind Analytics had initial success in helping Alzheimer’s Los Angeles analyze geospatial trends in its donorship and interpreting the previous year’s donation trends. Biokind Analytics is now a 501(c)(3) organization with chapters on seven college campuses around the country and has served several medical nonprofits.
These types of collaborative partnerships powered by technology innovations are one way that organizations can work together to both use data and serve communities. They focus on tailored targeting, as in the example of the college, enabling organizations to create more powerful fundraising and donor acquisition and engagement by studying preferences, behaviors and needs.
6 ways to use technology and data to drive impact
In the Big Data era, it is easier than ever to collect, analyze and use data to power strategic decision-making around service efficiency, fundraising, grant applications, public relations and more. Consider how technology — and, in particular, modern nonprofit board management software — can cut through complexity and help illuminate the insights that data provides.
1. Home in on data that maximizes impact
It’s a Goldilocks situation: Too much data can be just as undesirable as not enough, and organizations should home in on the right type and amount of data to support their organizations. For example, tailored surveying — another feature of digital board management software — can ensure the right data is collected at the right time for better decision-making around goals, progress and their mission.
2. Analyze data to identify what is resonating with people
In the earlier examples, nonprofits are using existing or readily obtainable data from potential donors to enhance their fundraising efforts. These same types of data (results of email campaigns, social platform engagement and more) can be used to better understand what messaging is resonating with possible members, donors and other stakeholders.
3. Adopt smart partnerships
The earlier examples, both around fundraising, can tie their success to the right partners. Modern nonprofits almost always require technology to serve their communities effectively, but most don’t have the resources to staff for every IT need. Partners such as Diligent bring experience with mission-driven organizations to make the dreamable achievable while staying in-budget.
4. Support strategic planning efforts
Current and historical data – the right data – enables keen insights in developing and measuring progress against a strategic plan. By honing key performance indicators tied to mission goals, nonprofit leaders quickly can see and understand the progress their organizations are making.
5. Use tools that support collaboration
Sharing data within the board, with staff and through strategic partnerships ensures all stakeholders are on the same page working toward the same goals. Nonprofit board management software such as BoardEffect offers clear, consistent presentation of data shared through granular permissions so the board and others can be more effective around strategic planning and outcome tracking.
6. Use metrics for effective resource allocation
Volunteer and staff efficiency is important for organizations working with limited resources or who simply never have enough hands. By implementing task workflows and reporting, board members and organization leaders can better understand how the work is getting done and the bottlenecks that may impede strategic goals.
The next steps to data maturity
Most organizations already have the data they need to start making profound change. By cutting through clutter, honing in on the right data and engaging the right tools and partners, mission-driven organizations can increase the impact they have on the communities they serve.
Consider this takeaway from Nathan Chappell, senior vice president at DonorSearch, from The Chronicle of Philanthropy article: “There’s no future where you compete effectively in a world where you’re not using big data and technology,” he says. “Every nonprofit that wants to be here tomorrow needs to be able to leverage data to some extent.”
Data can provide the answers, but mission-driven organization boards need the right tools to cut through the noise and inform better decision-making. BoardEffect is board management software designed for the unique needs of nonprofits that enables leadership teams to collaborate and make data-driven decisions confidently.
Contact BoardEffect to request a demo and learn how the right solution can transform your mission-driven organization today!