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Nonprofits can do better if they address these 4 issues as they attempt to leverage big data Featured

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Many people believe that nonprofits are technologically outdated. However, as a group,  nonprofits are shedding this stereotype as they adopt and use modern technologies such as big data, currently one of the leading buzzwords in businesses. Despite some nonprofits using big data, they miss some critical steps that can add value for them. Here are 4 things to review in your nonprofit’s efforts to leverage big data.

  1. Nonprofits should understand what to do with collected data

Organizations collect data but few of them know how to use this data to benefit of their operations. This is also the case for many nonprofits most of who are taking a little longer to understand how data can be used to gain a competitive advantage. A good indicator is if the organization has no specific member of staff dedicated to managing data, and at the same time lacks policies to govern the use of their data. It gets worse when it comes to implementation of what nonprofits learn from big data in decision making. Decisions made by nonprofits are not always data driven.

  1. Lack of training on big data and related software

If a nonprofit lacks understanding of how big data software works, they don’t take advantage of the data due to a lack of training on software, meaning they can’t utilize data they collect. That can be partially due to the fact that the software used lacks user-friendliness or cannot be integrated properly to the organization. It is therefore crucial for nonprofits to dedicate time and resources to understanding and implementing software and procedures to ensure that all their data is collected and used in decision making.

  1. Nonprofits believe that data is important strategically but may not be using it effectively

Data alone does not offer value to an organization. It is the ability to analyze the data and make informed decisions that gives your firm a competitive edge and adds value. While many nonprofits collect a massive amount of data, only a handful of them use the data at their disposal to make decisions about their operations. The result of this is astonishing. If an organization is tracking users of their website to understand the behavior of the visitors to their donation pages for instance, they could be able to figure out what they need and offer them a better experience. Considering the fact that the websites are often the first place where potential supporters are introduced to your services, a good understanding of the potential customers and what they like searching for can mean increased engagement and donations to your nonprofit.

  1. Unavailability of data governance standards

Most nonprofits are unable to use big data for social problems due to inadequate data governance standards which defines how data belonging to different individuals should be captured, stored and managed for accountability. This can introduce inconsistencies and therefore the data captured is not readily suitable for decision making. In most cases, this data needs to be transformed before being used, a process which can be costly. Data analysts can struggle with integrating different datasets due to lack of proper metadata (data that describe data) and and  if the quality of the data is poor.

The value of data in any nonprofit is undeniably high and should, therefore, be the basis for decision making. However, although data is readily available, practices and culture of using data to arrive at crucial decisions is still low in many organizations and needs to be improved. 

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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