Data analytics is the science of collecting and analyzing sets of data to develop useful insights, connections, and patterns that can lead to better informed decision making. It can be extremely useful for non-profits as well. For example, data-driven non-profit Community Solutions partners with local charities to help them reduce, and even end, homelessness in their communities. Among the tools it uses are databases that account for individuals experiencing homelessness and their history, health, and housing needs, as well as real-time data on available housing.
So, how can non-profits that don’t have the expertise to pursue tech-driven solutions like data analytics? If this sounds like your organization, take note: Using data analytics is easier than you might think. And deploying it successfully can save your non-profit time and effort over the long term.
Number Of Advantages
The potential for data analytics is almost endless. It can produce such metrics as program efficacy, outcomes vs. efforts, and membership renewal that can reflect past and current performance and, in turn, predict and guide future performance. Data analytics also can help your organization validate trends, uncover root causes, and improve transparency. For example, analysis of certain fundraising data makes it easier to target those individuals most likely to contribute to your non-profit.
Data analytics typically facilitates fact-based discussions and planning, which is helpful when considering new initiatives or cost-cutting measures that stir political or emotional waters. The ability to predict outcomes can support sensitive programming decisions by considering data on a wide range of factors — such as at-risk populations, funding restrictions, and grantmaker priorities.
Finding What You Need
Data usually comes from two sources, internal and external. Internal data includes your organization’s databases of detailed information on donors, beneficiaries, or members. External data can be obtained from government databases, social media, and other organizations. Some basic analytics tools are free or available through non- and for-profit partnerships. If you need more sophisticated and powerful functions, your organization may need to spend a little money.
Your informational needs should dictate your data analytics package. Thousands of potential performance metrics can be produced, but not all of them will be useful. So, identify those metrics that matter most to stakeholders and that truly drive decisions. Also ensure the technology solution you choose complies with any applicable privacy and security regulations, as well as your organization’s ethical standards.
Talk To Experts
If you have in-house technology expertise or any board members familiar with data analytics, seek their input. Otherwise, talk to data experts for advice. Contact us for recommendations.