In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the word “big data” dominated the headlines around the world and struck fear in the hearts of CIO’s, nonprofit executives, and the back-office IT guy. What used to be the problem of big technology firms in Silicon Valley quickly became a problem for almost every business, nonprofit, and human services organization alike. And it happened quickly.
Data management can be a tedious, difficult process, but if done right, has the potential to be one of the most rewarding and profitable endeavors in which your nonprofit can engage.
The problem is that nonprofits are often inexperienced, ill-equipped, or poorly staffed before taking on major data gathering and parsing undertakings. As a result, it is important to look at the big picture and plan your strategy from the ground up.
Another problem many for- and non-profit enterprises run into is that the majority of their tech spending goes into technology, not the data itself, despite many proclamations that data is the most important asset to an organization. But where’s that money going? In most cases, the majority of that IT budget is being spent on the hardware your organization uses to store that data, or the software used to generate and organize it. The problem is that not enough attention is being put on actually maintaining and polishing all that data that’s being created, and subsequently saved. Poor data quality and governance is the result, leading to failed “big data” projects.
So what can you do? To better manage your data is to better understand how that data actually impacts your nonprofit.
Understand your data
Data, and all the information you can learn from it, is capable of empowering your organization to achieve great things, but only when it is accurately representing the events, things, or relationships as they are in the real world. Take a step back and objectively draft a document that states exactly what the important things, events, or relationships are that your data needs to represent.
Formalize your data oversight
Are there clear lines of accountability at your nonprofit that dictate who’s responsible for the management, polishing, updating, and overall integrity of your nonprofit’s data? If not, the time to draw the line in the sand is now. Data deteriorates at an alarming rate, and if there’s no one accountable for measuring and ensuring the integrity of your data, all that time, human, and monetary capital you put behind your fundraising endeavors could be for naught.
Implement stringent data entry procedures
If the data isn’t being entered into the system correctly initially, then you’re behind the 8 ball from the word go. Make sure your data entry specialist uses a standard, meticulous process for entering each piece of information into your database, and if there is more than one employee managing data entry, having one clear method is even more important.
It's also important to protect all this data you are working to
collect and polish. Download our white paper now to learn more: