Nonprofit Business Intelligence by: Robin Fisk, Charity Technology Specialist, Advanced Solutions International with the help of Shadan Malik, President and CEO, iDashboards
Nonprofit organizations have long struggled with donor data-managing multiple databases, manually inputting the information into spreadsheets and developing static graphs. It has been a complex undertaking to achieve full transparency of donor demographics and fundraising activities-until now.
Designed to provide the visual insight needed to analyze, track and drill down through complex data sets, dashboarding technology is now a viable option for nonprofits. Organizations can be more nimble with fundraising programs and better manage their donor communities through the deployment of personalized, real-time dashboard tools and a single, comprehensive database system. The technology empowers nonprofit organizations to measure performance and monitor staff, while optimizing time and resources. Drilling into and better managing donor data will open up new doors for fundraising-ensuring the health of an organization.
Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Since many nonprofits are without established best practices for the use of dashboards, they first need to get a clear understanding of the metrics that best illustrate progress toward objectives. For example, do donors prefer to attend events to contribute in-person, or are online donations the most effective way to obtain funds? Measurements to determine if the staff is effectively managing the donor pipeline will also help to gain actionable insight. For dashboards to provide the visual intelligence needed, it is critical that an accurate assessment of the organization’s goals and the elements needed to achieve them are clearly mapped out.
Monitor performance trends from different perspectives. Dashboards provide visibility into the full scope a nonprofit’s fundraising initiatives. With this technology, organizations can attain clarity at the overall, tactical and operational levels, accurately gauging performance by comparing donor habits, gift sizes, volunteer times and other metrics. At the overall level, or mile-high view, nonprofit executives might want to see a broad picture of what is actually going on within a campaign at any time. Are donations on pace to hit the target? Are the events running over budget? How many donors are being targeted, and is it an increase from the last campaign? Visualization tools like dashboards enable executives to see this information anytime they choose without having to wait for manual reports to be run, compared and refined.
At the tactical level, or campaign management view, users can narrow in to monitor different program segments and determine how each is performing in its entirety. For example, a campaign’s e-mail marketing segment might include five separate mailing periods, comprised of an e-mail flight each week for one month. Using dashboards, a nonprofit can easily determine how each flight is performing in terms of open rates, donations collected, etc.
At the operational level, more specific details about the campaign are provided. How many e-mails were sent? When were the e-mails sent? At what time were they distributed? With a real-time view to this level of detail, a nonprofit can spot a problem as it’s happening, such as learning that the first half of the month is the best time to send an appeal, and ensure a postive affect on the donation goal.
The value of donor data is directly proportionate to how fast nonprofits can react to it. In today’s economic climate, organizations of all sizes need to be responsive to game-changing information in order to make timely, well-informed decisions. It is more critical than ever for fundraising departments-as well as the entire staff-to have access to the tools needed to identify how donor demographics and performance data can be leveraged. Better understanding of the state of their donors today will help nonprofits make better decisions for tomorrow.