3 Data Year End Data Questions Your Nonprofit Should Be Asking

Data, data, data. Is there a word more often uttered in the nonprofit technology sector today?

Cloud might be a close second, but data has to reign supreme.

All jokes aside, the data your nonprofit collects on a daily daily basis has the potential to alter the course of your organization. However, your data is only as good as how you implement it. Merely collecting adn storing copious amounts of data won’t do you much good. You have to actually look at it and draw conclusions from what you see.

The end of the year is the obvious time to take a step back and ask the tough question of your nonprofit’s data. But this can be done quarterly, or even monthly if you have the time and manpower to do that.

Achieving actionable nonprofit data management is essential as the use of data becomes more prevalent in contemporary business practices every day. Here are 3 questions your nonprofit can ask to help decide if it’s getting the most out of its data at the end of 2014.

1. What data actually matters to my organization?

Put in simple english, chances are all the data your nonprofit collects is not necessary. There are so many different numbers, statistics, rates, figures and percentages that can be tracked, it’s impossible to make sense of them all.

How can you make that data matter to your organization? Try writing down 45 organizationl goals, and attach a specific metric to that goal. Define the exact metric, and write down why this piece of data will make that goal attainable.

For example, your organization’s goal is to increase the number of individual, unique donors in the coming year. the amount of web traffic to your organization’s donation page is a key indicator of whether or not you’ll be able to achieve this goal.

2. Is my organization’s data clean, and accurate?

Believe it or not, there is a different between clean and dirty data. Dirty data is defined as inaccurate, incomplete, or simply erroneous data. Data can be deemed dirty when it is incorrectly entered into the database, it could violate a business rule, or simply be out of date.

The best way to combat dirty data is to set in place a best practices, or basic methodologies to ensure data is always being entered correctly, and is completely valid.

3. How can this data improve my organization’s performance?

You’ve outlined your organization’s goals, and assigned what data metrics you need to pay attention to. Additionally, you’ve taken a look at your data and made sure it was clean.

So how do you make all this data start working for your nonprofit?

Running consistent reports on the data you defined in the first question is a great place to start. Make sure when you run the report you’re understanding whether or not you’re making progress, and you understand what steps you’re taking to achieve the goals you previously outlined.

4. Is your nonprofit's data secure?

The last thing your nonprofit needs is to lose all of its data. Whether its the spreadsheets that track your donations or your entire contact list, your data is the life blood of your nonprofit. Making sure it's safe is perhaps the most important  question you can answer at anytime of the year.

Data only matters when you’re using it. Collecting data just for the sake of collecting data is not only ineffective, but you’re actually hindering your nonprofit’s ability to complete its mission.

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