Geek looking at data

How NFPs can get started with data and analytics

Published Mar 4, 2020, 03:20 PM by Allen Davidov
Getting started with data and analytics doesn’t have to be complicated especially for small and mid-size businesses in the not-for-profit and charitable sectors.

A round-table on data, analytics and data science gave way to an interesting conversation about not-for-profit and charitable organizations who haven’t dabbled with data and analytics before. Through conversation and our experience, we see that many of NFPs and charitable organizations understand the benefits of utilizing data but are unsure of where to start.

While data and analytics can be complicated and intimidating, it does not have to start that way especially for small and mid-size businesses. For this reason, we compiled the 3 common questions we get asked by NFPs interested in getting started with data and our best answers.

Three common questions NFPs ask when starting with data and analytics:

1. For not-for-profits who haven't dabbled with data analytics before, what is the first thing to consider?

What are you trying to accomplish? Clearly stating objectives or goals will often guide you to the right data or analytics solution. For example, if your goal is to re-engage past donors, or groups, it will likely require a deep dive into existing records and a database cleanup. If the goal is to engage current and newer supporters, the need to clean old records could be less meaningful or important. It is also important to understand what type of data you already have to work with:

  • What data is available internally?
  • If you have a database or CRM, is it clean? How are the records situated?
  • How are you tracking or measuring your activities and what are the metrics?

The methodology of where you put things matters. The answers to the questions listed above will reveal good places for your organization to start with data and analytics.


2. What data are available to the not-for-profit sector?

A few types of data available to fundraisers and marketers include:

Financial or Wealth data helps you to better understand your pipeline, and more granularly, what financial assets each donor can contribute. Whether that is cash now, to blended gifts made up of cash and liquid assets, to fixed assets like pension plans, real estate or other assets that are harder to convert.

Psychographic data gets at people’s beliefs and values. This data helps fundraisers and marketers understand how to connect messaging and marketing collateral in a manner that will solicit a reaction. Whether that is a donation, volunteer support or someone advocating on their behalf.

Behavioural data helps you to understand the size of your market and the types of channels people use (online, direct mail, telephone) to give or volunteer. Behavioural can also include what types of media people use in their day to day lives, whether that is traditional media channels, through to social media.

In Canada, data is available at the six-digit postal code level which is the lowest level of geography. In the U.S., household data is available.


3. How do I understand the state of my database cleanliness?

There are many data hygiene focused companies that can help you understand the state of your database, starting from how up to date your addresses are, to taking a deep dive into the deceased records in your CRM. Many of the services available offer free reports to understand where your organization stands in terms of database cleanliness.

Do not be discouraged if your database does not feel up to snuff, the truth is, nobodies is.

Data does not have to be overwhelming. Know your company and project goals in mind, understand what data is available to your organization and continue to ask questions. Our experts are always available to help you keep moving forward and in the right direction when it comes to data, analytics and data science.


Watch the "Data, Analytics and Data Science for Not-For-Profits" round table discussion

Read more about the work EA does to help the not-for-profit sector realize their mission


Allen Davidov leads Environics Analytics' Not-For-Profit Practice. He has more than 15 years of experience helping charities of all sizes use #DataForGood to achieve their fundraising goals. To learn more about how data and analytics can help your not-for-profit organization or to ask a question about your specific situation, get in touch. We’re ready to help.

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