Is ‘Analytics’ Useful for the Nonprofit

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Analytics is the tracking of patterns, trends from the analysis of data. Better data analysis in the business community is a major trend for 2016. With all the sources of information now available, it is not difficult to understand the growing need for analytics in the for-profit community. But is it equally important for the nonprofit world to take note?

Most nonprofits collect data, but how useful is it. Is it turning information into knowledge? I know of a data manager who only knows how to enter the data. He has no tools or skills to analyze it. Collecting the right data requires some strategic thinking to ensure that the data is useful.

Quality versus quantity: Is the data we are collecting relevant to our goals and mission? Who benefits from using this data – programs, donors, funders, marketing?

Setting priorities: With the burst of new technologies for data analysis coming on stream, what are the most important targets for the use of our data? Is it to help monitor and evaluate programs – which strengthens the appeal to funders? Is it visual data – graphs, video, pictures, and testimonials – that tell great stories to our donors? Most non-profits will need professional training or outside help to install these capabilities, so it is important to decide what strategy is the most important.

In researching this article I found one website that appeared to be useful for advice and knowledge. The site is for a business model, not for non-profits, but provides an orientation to the data analysis process. It is Tableau Software (tableau.com). I am sure there are others but they sent me an email immediately that explains the process in its free training video.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org