6 Insights Into How Nonprofits Are Tracking, Analyzing and Using Data

By eleventy marketing group

We talk frequently on this blog about how more and more companies are collecting and analyzing data to make better financial, operational and marketing decisions. But what about the nonprofit world? How are nonprofit organizations using data to achieve better results? Are they using data at all?

Recently, the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) conducted a survey of nonprofits about their relationships with data. They published the results in a report titled “The State of Nonprofit Data”. The information in this report gives us a better idea how nonprofits are using data and the data challenges they continue to face. Today, we look at some key stats from this report.

Six insights into how nonprofits view data:

99% of respondents track some sort of metrics

89% track financial data and find it useful for making decisions

50% are tracking data about outcomes of clients/constituents

41% are tracking external data about their issue area

39% use donor data to make budgeting decisions

26% use donor data to make program decisions

Key Takeaways: What do these numbers tell us

The numbers reveal that nonprofits understand the value of tracking and analyzing data. But the NTEN report notes: “how nonprofits are currently using data does not necessarily reflect how they would like to use it”. Most nonprofits are aware they should be collecting more data, and using data more to drive decision-making.

Also, while the majority of nonprofits are tracking (and using) finance and operations data, only two-thirds of nonprofit organizations are tracking marketing, communications and program data. It’s likely even fewer nonprofits are leveraging that data to improve and enhance their efforts in these areas.

Top Challenges: What are nonprofit data barriers

Even for large companies, the challenges of collecting, analyzing and using data can be daunting. So for nonprofit organizations – which generally have fewer resources available – the challenges of effectively employing data are even greater. Most nonprofits lack the time, personnel, budget or technology needed to get the most out of data. According to the NTEN “State of Nonprofit Data” report, nonprofits noted these as the most significant barriers to tracking and using data more:

  • Collecting and working with data (27%)
  • Lack of expertise (24%)
  • Technology (23%)
  • Time and prioritization (22%)

Moving into the future, where more and more data will be available for collection, these challenges will continue to be hurdles for many nonprofit organizations.

Potential Solutions: How to break the barriers

Nonprofits need to find ways to make data collection and use a greater priority. One potential solution is developing partnerships with outside organizations that can help collect, track and analyze data, and provide actionable recommendations. Working with a partner can help organizations overcome the barriers created by lack of technology, time and expertise to use data more effectively.

The stats listed here just skim the surface of what’s in the NTEN “State of Nonprofit Data” report. We suggest you download and read through the whole report here.

Learn how eleventy’s Marketing Intelligence services help nonprofits use donor data to increase response, results and return on investment.