Managing Your Data
Managing your data is a full-time job. Frankly, it’s probably several full-time jobs. No matter which database you have chosen, it is only as good as the information you put into it. We in the non-profit sector are driven by data, whether we realize it or not. Who are our donors, how much have they given, where did they give, what events do they attend, how do they respond to us…and so on. Some organizations have entire departments devoted to data, while for others it’s a one-person show. Whether you are a big shop or a small shop, effectively managing your data actually makes your job much easier. Clean data enables a colorful range of reporting functionality, allows you to quickly and easily find and pull out what you need, and helps to identify trends. By following clear procedures, creating and utilizing consistent coding, and performing regular data health checks you can meet all your organization’s data needs with confidence. The integrity of your data will have a direct impact on the work your team does, and by extension on your donor community.
Making the most of your database is a project worth pursuing. If you could make a wish-list of all the things you would like to be able to do with your data, how many on that list are you currently getting? Would you believe me if I told you that you could have them all? The sheer amount of data available to us today is staggering, which makes it more crucial than ever to have a strong system in place to house and manage all of it. Data can help you better serve your donors, your employees, your leaders, and your community, but harnessing the power of data isn’t always a priority. In many cases this is simply because an organization may lack the resources or the knowledge to do so. It’s easy to get stuck trying to make sense of the data and the myriad tools available to organize that data. The many, many choices for data management devices and how to use them is both a positive and a negative, and navigating these options is an ongoing process. If you can put in the hard work to set up a system for use and enable the regular management of it you will ultimately save yourself time and raise more dollars for your efforts.
Don’t believe me? Check out the data! A report from Nonprofit Hub shares the results of a survey they conducted with 467 nonprofit professionals. 90% of participants said their organization tracked data, but 48% said they weren’t sure of all the ways that data was being tracked, and only 5% use the tracked data in their decision making. Just 6% of individuals felt they were effectively using the available data at their disposal while a whopping 97% expressed interest in learning how to use their data more effectively. So why is this, and where is that gap coming from? The study indicated that there could be several reasons for it. 79% of respondents felt they do not have enough time or personnel to focus on data. 55% felt that their employees don’t have enough experience using data. 46% indicated that their data isn’t being kept in one place. 42% replied that they lacked the tools to help analyze the data. 36% felt that their organizations aren’t collecting enough data. A mere 3% overall indicated that they had received extensive training on their software. If these challenges sound familiar, you are most certainly not alone. In a climate where buzzwords like ‘data analytics’ are taking industries by storm, don’t you want to be able to put your data to good use?
Whether it’s choosing the right database tool, establishing how it will be used, implementation, training, or managing day-to-day needs, Empreinte can be a partner and resource. Helping you be more efficient and working toward realizing your goals begins with building a strong base. Without good data and healthy data practices that base lacks the strength to support other efforts. Investing in your internal operations is the first step towards sustaining organization-wide growth and success. Having a database specialist working with you every step of the way you can kickstart your data management program and leverage it to do the hard work for you.