Updated: Aug 31, 2018
We’ve all heard that big data is revolutionizing the for-profit world; making companies smarter, leaner and more intuitive. But do we hear of big data powering nonprofits to new levels of donations and impact? Not as much. There’s no reason both scenarios can’t be true.
That notion, however, hasn’t always been the case.
For businesses and nonprofits, big data is generally composed of measuring, monitoring and tracking performance. Business intelligence (BI) is the (unfortunately) corporate-sounding term for the software tools that analyze these data for key insights.
Good metrics to begin with for any nonprofit include the number of revenue sources you have, how many donors are renewing and your revenue growth rate.
But traditional BI tools were unwieldy, server-intensive software programs that required a team of data analysts to implement and operate. Just getting one online took, on average, 33 percent more time than expected, according to the article “6 Reasons Why Legacy BI Sucks.” Furthermore, operating them cost 45 percent more money than originally budgeted. It’s no surprise nonprofits were not quick to adopt the technology.
This all means the BI tools of the corporate sector are now accessible to nonprofits. So where do you start?
1. Know What You Want from Your Data
2. Keep Your Data Clean
3. Incorporate Data into Your Storytelling
All of these things and more help nonprofits make strategic, data-driven operations and tactical decisions—which, in turn, helps generate a higher social return to the organization.