As a non-profit, return on investment (ROI) and budgets are often watched closely. Because of this, investment in new technology like data analysis may not always be top priority. However, using data is critical for non-profits. Its use can have a huge impact on ROI, operational efficiency, and marketing effectiveness – with significant knock-on effects on your bottom-line.
To use data effectively, you must ensure it is accurate. Data that’s accurate is collected in a timely way, stored securely, processed and cleaned for use, with records of alteration and clear ownership of it. Every stage of its journey within your organisation offers an opportunity to strengthen its accuracy or undermine it.
Know what to collect
Not all data is equal. Knowing what data to collect for your projects will save storage and maintenance costs. You won’t waste money storing redundant information, and every data set will provide value to your organisation. Non-profits can collect donation data, for instance, to understand when fundraising is at its highest throughout the year and when this is low. By knowing this, the non-profit can plan a marketing campaign to boost donations during slow times.
Keeping records of how data has been used and if it’s been altered is critical. It gives a paper trail that can be referred to if the data set is corrupted in any way. Metadata can also provide an indication of how timely and relevant data is. You can tag your data with the time that it was collected and when it was cleaned. Plus, tagging data with consent metadata will help you keep compliant with GDPR.
Make it accessible
Data cannot be used if it’s not accessible to those who need it. Crucially, they should only have access to the data that they need, to ensure data security. Cloud computing helps make data and its insights accessible to anyone that needs it – wherever and whenever it is required. It can also power dashboards that make data insights usable for everyone. At a click of a mouse, a non-technical manager can quickly see useful information on their department’s performance.
Ensuring good data governance is vital in building data accuracy. Data governance covers the complete lifecycle of data, from first collection to its eventual disposal. It can be further divided into data management, security, availability, usability, and integrity. Creating a data governance strategy is a good idea if you don’t already have one.
Data ownership and leadership
Ultimately, you must have clear data ownership and lines of command. Everyone should know who to turn to for access to information, to report alterations, or if a data breach occurs. This data leader will have responsibility for all data use and governance in your organization. So, they will usually be a senior leader with experience in data and analytics.
The benefits of using data
There are many perks to using your data. It can be used to track the performance of marketing campaigns. You can effectively attribute a rise in donations to a specific advert or social media post, for example. Knowing this was successful, you can replicate the same strategy on other campaigns. In doing so, you increase your ROI and marketing effectiveness.
Data will help you build donor profiles to target them more effectively. You can choose the best marketing channels to reach them, with perfect messaging and at an effective time. Therefore, your marketing spend generates more ROI.
It will also streamline your operations. Through your internal data, you can uncover inefficiencies in your finances, supply chain, and operations. Identifying these will help you take action to reduce them and associated costs.
Accuracy where it matters
The more accurate your data is, the more accurate your insights will be. By putting a few processes in place, you can ensure the effectiveness of your data throughout its life. That way, you can focus on the important stuff: using your data, gaining insights from it, and taking action.
With Xledger, you can engage data however you choose to achieve your goals – whether you need to view detailed transactions or zoom out for a bird’s eye view of the entire organization’s spending. Contact our team to find out how installing cloud ERP can empower your non-profit today.