The collection, management and analysis of data is becoming increasingly more important for nonprofit organizations. Savvy data management and analysis can lead to increased funding and better programs and services and has become critical to sustaining the work of our nonprofit. But, Data Management is not simple, especially for nonprofits that lack a data team. There are so many tools, services and options for nonprofits to consider to help them make sense of all the information they're collecting. Below are a few tips you want to consider when it comes to maintaining your database.
Databases are extremely useful in simplifying operations, communication, and workflows for nonprofits. Not to mention helping nonprofits share their impact in order to increase funding opportunities and improve business operations.
Nonprofits and charities use databases to manage donor, volunteer, and B2B profiles and aggregate data. However, database are also used for storing records, files, other types of sensitive information.
In fact, most organizations would find it difficult to continue operating without a good database, as organizations deal with a multitude of data and information. But of course, a good database can go down-hill if it is not properly maintained.
Here are a few tips you might not have considered when it comes to maintaining your database.
Keep it clean
Your nonprofit may have multiple files for one donor or volunteer. Say you connect with these supporters through social media, email, your website, a 3rd party site, or in-person at an event; each interaction results in a new addition of information to the database. One donor might have 5 or more partial profiles in your database! At least once a year merge donor and volunteer profiles, while eliminating duplicates along the way. Also look into a database that is specifically geared toward donor and volunteer information, such as constituent relationship management (CRM) system.
Related: Why Nonprofits Should Embrace Big Data & The Cloud
An important part of data security is auditing your database's information. What don't you need to keep anymore? Expired donor credit cards are a great example of data that should be purged from your systems.
This is also a time to review access levels; that is account managers, administrators, and users. Have employees left your nonprofit, but still have account access? Do too many people have writing and editing access to your database that don't NEED it? What is your quality control--who is the gatekeeper of information going in?
Most databases will allow you to customize and assign account access.
Make your database easier to search by standardizing the terms and data. Phone numbers, for example, can be formatted a number of ways, such as (302) 123-4567, 3021234567, 1-302-123-4567, and etc., but allowing the variety can make searching more difficult.
In addition, there are so many ways to say the same thing and everyone has their own preference. For documents especially, most people include the date, title of the file, and perhaps some combination of their name or initials in the file name to show who last edited the file, when it was changed, and what it is. This is great, but makes searching for the right file name exceedingly difficult. Define a standard, such as official file name + mmddyyyy + 2 initials. You might get something like this: Grant-Application-11262013-PJ.doc.
Keep a record of maintenance
It's importance to schedule and keep track of database maintenance and audits. Also, keep a log of duplicates, merges, files, and constituent profiles and create goals for the next year. Keeping a record might help you improve workflow over time and create better standards.
Join us for a webinar focused on managing nonprofit data in a way that not only saves time but allows you to produce outcomes such as reports, dashboards and stories. Let us help you turn your data into actionable information.
We will outline important considerations to make while searching for a new data system and implementing a chosen system.