Data Visualization

Non-Profits: Using Data to Understand and Build Success

Non-profits; the often misunderstood and underestimated sector of business. We learned from Dan Pallotta that charities and not-for-profit companies are held to extremely different standards that over-scrutinize spending on resources.

Here you will learn how you can use your existing data to understand your success and strive towards growing your non-profit.

Step One: Collect Your Data

Once you have taught your staff and volunteers the value of good data hygiene, you’ll discover that it’s easy to collect and maintain large quantities of data.

To start, you may want to use a simple spreadsheet before processing onto other systems.

Start by collecting the below data points:

  • How many campaigns do you run regularly?
  • How many campaigns do you currently have active?
  • How many fundraising pages do you have online?
  • Your amount raised per campaign.
  • Your total number of donors.
    • Note: Always keep a complete list of donors.
  • Your total number of regular contributors.
    • Note: Donors who contribute regularly.
  • Engagement statistics on your fundraising pages.
    • Note: Establish a value system such as 3 points for shares, 2 points for comments and 1 point for likes.
  • Total money raised per campaign, month, staff member etc.

These numbers will prove vital in establishing, verifying and building success as a non-profit.

Step Two: Keep Your Data Clean

Do not underestimate the importance of keeping data clean and healthy. Establish a clear system for all staff members to follow, and only give editable access to those who need it. An example of unhealthy data could be some staff members assigning donors a number for identification and others using their last name. These mixes of identifications could result in your systems sorting and treating the data differently.

Step Three: Identify Core Takeaways that Align with Your Strategy

Within non-profit organizations, strategy is everything. Often starting with minimal resources, your goal is getting investments and donations to better those you are helping.

Having a clear path can help you achieve this. Take an in-depth look at your strategy and decide which data points are the most relevant. From these data points, find three key takeaways that you would like to track periodically – either weekly, monthly, or yearly. Then tailor your strategy and campaigns to boost these as much as possible. Examples could include the total money raised, the monthly number of recurring donors or the average donation per campaign.

Step Four: Identify Actionable Metrics

Knowing how you will define future success comes first from knowing where you stand now. Once you know this, compare to where to you were a year ago. How much did you grow? Now consider how much you would like to grow in the upcoming year.

If your company has dependable data available from the past, use that. Otherwise, use this point in time as a ‘reset’ and move forward with data collection diligence. Focus on actionable metrics: User action (what the receiver of your information does) and Management action (what you do).

Examples of User action metrics:

  • Time spent engaging with your marketing.
  • Actions they took e.g. sharing, liking, commenting.
  • Donations.
  • Attendance.

If you strive to improve these metrics, consider how you can make your marketing more captivating, your events more inviting and your donations easier.

Management action metrics focus on what you do, so they are reliant on your daily actions. Examples include spending and hiring the best people who align with your core values. Engage with your management team on the metrics most relevant to your company.

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