10 Ways Nonprofits Can Benefit from Data Analytics

Nonprofits might not be after revenue but they still have big goals that they are after.

No matter if it’s fighting climate change, supporting people during natural disasters or feeding the homeless, they need to measure the success of their activities.

They still need to understand what’s going on and how their actions affect the world.

The best way for them to learn that is to use data analytics tools.

That’s why in this blog post, I’d like to list 10 ways that nonprofits can benefit from data analytics tools.

Measure the success of your investments

If you’re running a non-profit then you’d like to know how successful you are with your efforts.

You’d like to measure your success in some way so you can adjust your actions and improve your campaigns.

For example: you’d like to know how successful your fundraising campaigns are. How many people you reached, how many responded, how many requested meet ups and how many donated.

You would also want to know how successful your main activities and campaigns are.

For example: Let’s say that you’re running a campaign to encourage people to throw plastic bottles in a special containers.

In this case, you can measure how many people you reached and how many responded with the right action.

In case, your campaign was not as successful as you wanted it to be, you can analyze your data to find out why.

Then you can take the appropriate action to improve your campaigns and do better.

Understand what’s working vs. what’s not

Without data analytics nonprofits will never understand what’s working and what’s not.

By tapping into your data, you can learn which campaigns are currently working. So you can scale them up to get better results.

At the same time, you will also learn which campaigns are not working so you can make changes in order to improve them.

This means that nonprofits that embrace the use of data analytics will be likely to get higher ROI out of their campaigns.

For example: when outreaching for fundraising, you will see that some audiences respond better than others.

That way you can focus more on targeting the people that would be more likely to donate to your cause and stop outreaching to the ones that are not responsive.

Identify short and long-term opportunities

In order for your non-profit to be successful, you should always be able to identify short and long-term opportunities.

For example: if there is a natural disaster happening right now, this requires your immediate response and attention.

Let’s say that there is a hurricane that hit the Florida region.

In this case, you can access big data from other organizations and learn:

  • How serious is the situation and how big is the damage
  • How many people are affected by the hurricane and how
  • What are the biggest issues people in the region are facing and how you can help them
  • Where the hurricane is move to and which regions you will need to help next
  • Are there other hurricanes coming over

Example for a long-term opportunity is the issue with the climate change.

Here you can use big data to learn:

  • Which countries are the biggest source of CO2 emissions
  • How these emissions affect the planet? How are they going to affect the planet in the next 20 or 100 year if we do nothing?
  • Use data to understand what contributes the most to releasing C02 emissions and create effective strategies to reduce them.

Budgeting and forecasting

Data Analytics tools can help nonprofits deal with the challenges of budgeting, planning and forecasting.

So instead of working with several unsynchronized spreadsheets, they can centralize the data and simplify collaboration by using data analytics tools.

With their help they can enable complex planning and analysis. That way they can use integrated reporting and scorecarding so nonprofits can monitor progress toward goals in real time.

For example: when running a campaign to feed the homeless, they would know:

  • exactly how much resources they are spending each day
  • do they spend the same resources each day or does it fluctuate
  • how much resources they would need into the future.

In other words, data analytics can help you predict how much resource you would need to execute a campaign so you’re prepared.

The last thing you want is to come out short and realize that you don’t have enough food to feed the homeless or enough volunteers to feed them.

At the same time, by making these predications, you won’t overspend and waste resources you can focus on other campaigns.

Enterprise reporting

The challenge for most nonprofits is not that they don’t have data but that they can’t get to the data that they need when they need it.

This happens when your data is in several repositions across multiple applications. Then nonprofits need to dig for a long time in order to find what they are looking for.

A much simple solution for non-profits is to use enterprise reporting tools to consolidate multiple data source into one single data model.

That way they can get a global view of their operations and better understand how their efforts pays off.

For example: by using enterprise level reporting tools they can get an idea who is using their products and services and how.

They can help them spot patterns, identify current issues and setup goals to improve their metrics.

By using enterprise level reporting tools you can also visualize your data to understand it better. You can do that by using graphs, charts and animation, and customizable dashboards.

Fundraising and targeted outreach

Fundraising is essential for non-profits. Because without it, they would never be able to support their operations and continue functioning.

If a non-profit doesn’t make enough effort into fundraising, it faces budget shortfalls. On other hand, if it makes too much, it might risk making too much revenue.

So in order to maximize the effectiveness of your fundraising campaigns, you need to target those most likely to donate to your cause.

Predictive analytics tools can help you identity in advance who’s more likely to make a donation. That way you can focus on the outreaching opportunities that bring higher ROI.

Not only that, but you’re likely to reduce your marketing and outreach costs and free up time and resources for other activities.

Regulatory compliance

Nonprofits are required by regulations to govern the types of data they collect, how to use it and what to report.

Business intelligence software can first help nonprofits comply with this requirement so they don’t face any unnecessary sanctions and fines.

It can help them gather, organize, analyze their data as well as to compile their reports.

Develop More Effective Solutions

Most non-profits in the social sector are required to respond really quickly when it comes to solving certain issues.

To be able to do that, they can utilize big data so they can develop innovative solutions to combat and deal with these social issues.

For example: Jonathon Bays from McKinsey & Company said that data from cellular devices could be used to save hundreds of lives after natural disasters.

The reason why this is possible is because the data from the SIM cards reveal the location and the movement of whole population in real time.

That way when the problem appears, relief groups where to deliver supplies when it’s most needed.

At the same time, in case of epidemic, the data from the SIM cards combined with movement information could help anticipate the outbreak and the spread of disease.

Collective Problem Solving

Sometimes a problem is too big for a single non-profit organization to deal with.

This is a time when multiple organization need to collaborate together so they can solve this major issues.

For example: a major issue like this is the search for cure for cancer.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has terabytes of archived data on cancer cells that must be classified before they can be used for studies.

Since this is not a task they can deal by themselves, they needed an external help.

That’s why they have collaborated with Zooniverse to create Cell Slider. This is a website that lets volunteers from all around the world categorize and analyze cancer cells.

So far, volunteers have analyzed over 2,300,000 samples. That major assistance significantly helps CRUK in its path to finding a cure for cancer.

So that way, by making your data available to the public, you can get the help and the intelligence of interested participants.

This also provides your organization with additional usable sums of data.

For example: with the Cell Slider website, CRUK is now able to identify people interested in cancer research. These individuals can be targeted for recruiting, or for fundraising campaigns.

Improving global insight

Data analytics tools can be used to get a global perspective of how your non-profit organization is functioning.

This includes everything from staffing, asset management, fundraising and forecasting, etc.

That way you can have an upper view of what’s going on in your organization and identify and solve issues as they happen.

At the time, you can learn what you need to improve your overall success and reach for your goals faster.

Besides just utilizing your internal data, you can also use external big data to help you do a better job in your non-profit.

Do you currently use data analytics for your non-profit organization? How do you plan on using the data that they provide? Let us know in the comments below.

Martin Zhel is an inbound marketing expert and Founder of Orior Creative. He specializes in SEO, content marketing & conversion rate optimization.

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