Every person who engages with your nonprofit provides you with valuable insight. From opening an email to mentioning you on Twitter, interactions create a trail that can help you better reach people in the future. Problem is, few organizations are actually following the trail from interaction to insight.
A new study from the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) reveals how nonprofits are tracking and using “engagement data” (defined as actions, interactions and conversations related to the organization’s work that are not transactional or financial data). Today, we look at a handful of eye-opening results from the study—and what they mean for your nonprofit.
“When it comes to tracking and using ‘engagement’ data—today’s nonprofits are either tracking a lot, or hardly anything at all. And very few organizations are applying that data to make decisions about their programs or measure their strategic outcomes.”
Three Key Questions and Answers from the Nonprofit Engagement Data Study…
The 2013 Nonprofit Engagement Data Management Study was based on survey responses from 244 nonprofit communications and fundraising professionals. NTEN put together a nice infographic showing results from the study—check it out when you get the chance. In the meantime, we’ve honed in on a few significant survey questions and answers from the report:
What kind of non-financial (“engagement”) activity are you tracking about constituents?
88% Email Open Rates
86% E-newsletter Subscription
86% Activity on Organization Facebook Page
72% Mention of Organization Twitter Profile
69% Virality or Reach of Social Networks
Have you seen any correlation between your engagement/participation data and other areas of your work for which you collect data?
38% Annual Fundraising Amount
31% Frequency of Donations
30% giving level (gift size)
36% constituent/donor retention
35% constituent/donor growth
47% event participation
Do you plan to invest in any resources related to this kind of engagement/participation data collection, analysis and use in the next 12 months?
35.1% plan to implement a data evaluation project
29.8% plan to add related job task(s) to current staff responsibilities
25% plan to invest in new systems to help collect/analyze this kind of data
9.6% plan to hire a consultant/contract person for a data analysis project
9.2% plan to hire new staff with data analysis responsibilities
What This Report Means for Your Nonprofit
NTEN ultimately sums up the finding from the study by noting: “Nonprofits are tracking various kinds of participation data about the ways their constituents and supporters engage with their work and resources, but very few organizations are doing so strategically, nor are they supporting this practice with adequate tools and staffing.”
This is consistent with most finding related to nonprofits (and companies) when it comes to data. Organizations recognize the incredible value of data—all types of data—and are making active efforts to collect it. The challenge remains having the time, personnel and know-how to use collected data to increase donor engagement and improve marketing efforts. That will be a key goal for nonprofits moving forward. Just having the data is not enough; you have to be able to turn it into effective action.
About the 2013 Nonprofit Engagement Data Management Study
In spring 2013, NTEN partnered with Avectra to survey nonprofit professionals about the “engagement” data their organizations track, how they use it, what their key challenges are regarding working with this data for their missions, and what their plans are regarding engagement data projects in the next 12 months. Learn more about the study.