In the spring of last year, eleventy vice president of strategy and development Angie Moore set out to learn how nonprofit organizations were capturing and using data. To obtain this information, Angie created a 10-question survey. Ultimately, 528 nonprofit organizations completed the survey, providing a good cross-section of the nonprofit world—and some insightful results.
Findings from Angie’s nonprofit survey were used to create the infographic you see here (click on the image to view a full-size version). This infographic provides a nice snapshot of some of the key survey stats. For a more in-depth examination of the survey findings, we highly recommend you check out Angie’s survey results blog post for FundRaising Success.
In the meantime, we’ve highlighted three important takeaways for nonprofits based on Angie’s survey results. These takeaways provide some insight into how organizations can more effectively capture and use data to create stronger connections with donors and supporters.
3 Tips to Improve the Way Your Nonprofit Approaches Data
Findings from the survey on nonprofit data collection and usage indicate these three areas are where nonprofits need to make the most improvement:
1. Capture More Website Interactions
62% of nonprofits are not capturing any website engagements with constituents
At this point, we all know how important nonprofit websites are for both (1) learning more about organizations; and (2) making online donations. So the fact that the majority of nonprofits are not capturing website data is definitely surprising. One of the great things about the Web is you can relatively easily track people’s “footsteps”. You can see how they entered your site, what pages they went to and what they looked at.
This information can be vital for focusing your message and providing donors and potential donors more of what they want. As Angie states in her survey post “…every interaction a constituent has with your brand is an expression of his or her interest in your brand.” Understanding all facets of donor interest will help you reach people more effectively.
2. Track More Non-Financial Interactions
Over 50% of nonprofits capture half or less of their non-financial advocacy interactions
54% of nonprofits capture half or less of mission/program interactions
In the nonprofit world—just like the business world—we tend to think in dollars and cents. It’s the most common method of measuring results, and that way of thinking carries over to data. That means nonprofits are all very good at capturing financial data, but lag behind when it comes to capturing non-financial data. This is unfortunate because non-financial data can provide a lot of great insight. And that insight can be used to bring your organization more dollars and cents!
In her blog post reporting the survey findings, Angie writes: “As someone who has spent years understanding what it really means to see the full relationship of a constituent, I’ve learned that the non-financial transactions are the lowest priority for capture yet often are some of the most valuable indicators of brand commitment and loyalty.”
When someone engages with your organization in any way—whether to volunteer, advocate or even retweet something you post on Twitter—it tells you something about how and why they are connected to your cause and what activates them. When you make it a point to listen, you better understand how to trigger supporter action.
3. Use Data to Better Connect with Audiences
Only 54% of nonprofits use captured demographic information in their mass-market programs
That number drops to 51% for volunteer interactions, 37% for website interactions, and 31% for advocacy interactions
In this age of “big data”, it’s common knowledge that data collection far outweighs data usage across the board. From the survey results we see here, that sadly translates to the nonprofit world as well. That’s unfortunate because the only true value of data comes from its usage. Otherwise it’s just clutter, taxing the resources of your organization without giving back.
It takes some time and effort, but you have prioritize the importance of: (1) finding the insight in your collected data; and (2) putting that data insight to work your organization. That means using data to better speak to your audience—to provide the information different audiences are looking for, and use proven methods of compelling those audiences to action.
The organizations that are making an active effort to learn more about their supporters are the organizations that will see the most growth and success moving into the future. As Angie so eloquently says of data: “This information, if used correctly, paints the picture of how people connect to our organizations—and those connections are critical to helping predict future connections.”