What Nonprofit Data Services Really Means


You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “data services” before, but without fully understanding what it means, much of the rhetoric surrounding the term can be difficult, or downright impossible, to understand.

You and your colleagues certainly understand the impact your organization has on the communities and constituents you serve. Data services, in a nut shell, help nonprofits share their impact, increase funding opportunities, and improve and streamline business operations. Data, in the simplest terms, is anything that your computer generates, whether that’s an excel spreadsheet or contact information saved in a database. Your nonprofit utilizes technology to complete its mission, but without effectively managing that data you’re creating, all that technology is for naught. At the end of they day, if the mailing address or phone number isn't correct, you will not be able to engage and connect with your target audience.

So, what are data services?

Data services help to make sure you have the most up-to-date and reliable information in your records. A managed data services program appends or supplements your data records to make sure you have the most up to date, accurate information about your contact records or effecitvely organizes and archives data - whether that’s changing addresses, verifying addresses, or appending emails. Data decays at an alarming rate, and without giving this decaying data intentional care, it can actually work against your nonprofit.

How do data services work?

Often times data is sent to a data service provider who matches it against a large database that is known to be correct. The two lists are cross referenced and your data is updated to reflect the newest and most up-to-date information.

Why should an organization purchase data services?

You shouldn’t be spending your nonprofit’s precious dollars storing and utilizing bad information, and sending content to incorrect addresses or email addresses. Data services can help streamline the number of emails you are sending, or cut down on the amount you spend on printed materials - sending, postage, and packaging. Employing a rigorous data services plan ensures you’re getting the maximum return on your investment while communicating with donors and outreach campaigns.

What should an organization expect after running a data service append?

Immediately following starting a managed data services plan, your nonprofit should expect to see better open rates and engagement with email campaigns, which often translates to more donations from fundraising appeals, and less “bad address” return mail in your inboxes and post boxes.

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