Tracking Giving is Vital. But What About Tracking Data Within Your Organization?

A recent op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy addresses the debate over measuring non-profit giving, an especially timely topic after the publication of a Giving USA report showing a decline in philanthropy for 2022. But while experts and pundits discuss measuring data related to the community and the broader economy, DonorSearch has an important message for each and every nonprofit in America: The data already held by your organization is just as important to your success—if not even more so.

         To this point, Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy and author of Giving Done Right, takes aim at those who criticize measuring philanthropy. His concern is over criticism from academics and some thought leaders related to nonprofits’ perceived slights towards other forms of (non-traditional) giving such as “crowdfunding, mutual aid networks, and other private acts of kindness.” To be sure, Buchanan does recognize the importance of such worthy endeavors, as does DonorSearch. After all, a member of your community who gives to causes through GoFundMe has the potential to become a new donor to nonprofits that align with their values, even if legacy wealth screening leaves them invisible.

         Despite the value of other forms of giving and charity, Buchanan points out that proponents of ignoring data on giving to nonprofits seemingly believe “we should just accept a lesser role for nonprofits—even as the nation emerges from a period when these organizations stepped up to meet critical needs and unprecedented challenges.” Perhaps most importantly, Buchanan points out that it is small organizations that tend to be hurt the most by the viewpoint that giving to nonprofits doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

As he writes:       

Some of those calling for a reduced focus on nonprofit giving data speak derisively of what they call the “nonprofit industrial complex.” Yet the overwhelming majority of nonprofits are small and local, with budgets under $1 million. These are the organizations that pay the price when donations drop.

         Buchanan makes a convincing case that market data and the measurement of charitable giving to nonprofits is of critical importance. But there is yet another form of data just as key to the success of nonprofits ranging from healthcare systems and educational institutions to the performing arts. We’re talking about the data already collected by your organization—yet locked away in dusty corners of your systems, incapable of providing a clearer picture of your community, and of course, the potential donors within it.

         As DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell explains, “Quite often, our new clients want to immediately talk about different sources of data DonorSearch can bring to the table for use in AI analysis. When this happens, we ask them to first focus on the treasure trove of data already in their hands. No matter what type of nonprofit organization we’re working with, we find strong data on donors and potential donors unconnected to their primary information system, or not being utilized effectively due to system limitations.”

         This rich data—possessing the potential to be a major piece of the puzzle in unlocking a successful campaign to build engagement and relationships with prospects—is typically fragmented. This is largely a result of organizations becoming siloed, which CRM company Pipedrive defines as a situation in which “teams work in isolation and withhold information from others in the organization (often unintentionally).” Once an organization has siloes of data, unfortunately, “Information can easily end up hidden away in different apps, private folders or archived emails, making it inaccessible to other teams.”

         The result? Fundraisers are too often left making assumptions and guesses about their community when the answers they need to thrive may be a few feet away from them—contained in another hard drive. That’s why unlocking this internal data is DonorSearch’s first priority, even before bringing our powerful AI-driven tools into the mix.

         Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco elaborates on how internal and external data come together to enable profound insights: “Once we’ve done the work of integrating internal systems and breaking down siloes of info that tend to form at most nonprofits, we can then combine this valuable intel with external sources, like demographic data and wealth screening, giving our AI platform and custom algorithms an unparalleled data set to work with. The net result for nonprofits is deep and insightful information into their community that transforms into immediate action items. DonorSearch AI is all about empowering fundraisers to make a difference in their organization. This can start with unlocking that valuable internal data.”

         To learn just how we can empower your organization to access your own treasure trove, please contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future success every day, consider a career with DonorSearch.

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