Charities are continuing to come under pressure due to costs and resources. Making the most impact with the limited resources and budgets available is challenging. Charities are moving to be more digital and a by-product of this is being able to use a powerful tool to drive their decisions, their DATA!
If your first thought is “What is data and why is it important?”, we have you covered. Data is information collected through your day-to-day processes and interactions across your charity’s operation and back office. This information can be collected from your processes, online interactions, financial reports and that all important feedback from funders and donors. Data can be most effective when it is turned into insights that can show you how your charity is performing, where improvements are needed, and what strategies or projects are most effective. This can help you to get the funding you need from existing funders and may also support you unlocking new funding opportunities to help your charity move forward. In this web blog, we’ll explore the opportunities this may open for your charity and how you can use your data to inform the direction and decisions you need to make for your charity to survive and thrive.
Easy to measure the impact you are making
Measuring impact is one of the most important insights that you can have in your organisation. This is likely to be one of your primary measures as it is a key requirement of most funders. You need to be able to easily track the number of people you support, the improvements you are supporting them make in their lives, and the success of specific projects so you can demonstrate the tangible impact your charity is making. These results help your funders and donors see the difference their contributions are making.
Your data can help you to understand if there are specific needs your communities have. Through the projects you have designed and your day-to-day interactions you will capture lots of rich data about the difference the support you give is making. Your charity will be able to analyse and use this data to highlight other areas that could benefit support and aim to secure additional funding to make a difference more widely.
Keeping your donor’s engaged
Charities continue to rely on the generosity of donors to fund their vital work. The data you capture can be used to better understand your donors, engagement and personalise their experience. Using this data driven approach will help you strengthen and build a longer lasting relationship.
Being transparent in how you are using your data
Transparency and accountability are needed to build trust in Donor’s, your colleagues and the wider public. The ever-growing cyber security risk in the charity sector makes this ever more challenging. Your data needs to be up to date and held securely and used for the purpose it was intended. This is important to Donor’s, colleagues, and the public to ensure that their data is not going to be used maliciously. Your organisation needs to be able to keep its data up to date and stored for the specified period to build trust in your organisation.
Identifying ways to improve
Your data can also be used to tell you how your organisation is operating and help you to identify where there are improvement opportunities. It can help you to make sure that you are using your resources effectively, help with your budgeting and wider organisational planning. This data can be used to help you understand seasonal trends and predict critical high demand on your resources so you can plan better.
Helping your colleagues to understand the data
You need to have data management processes in place to ensure that your data is kept up to date, stored and being used for the purposes it was intended. Colleagues are critical to this management as it is their day-to-day interactions that will drive the data your organisation needs. Managers may benefit from training and support to understand how the data is being collected, used and what actions they need to take. This should support the important role your charity is playing in the communities you support.
In conclusion, your data is an asset in your organisation and needs the same management as your vital business systems and processes. Used in the right way your data can provide valuable insight to your organisation evidencing the positive change your charity is making. You don’t need to be a data guru to see the benefits you just need to start small, collect the data that is relevant and needed, and use it to make informed decisions to enable your charity to thrive in the future.