Nonprofits are collecting big data, but most are having trouble using it

To be a sustainable nonprofit in today's economy, it's almost a necessity to accept donations online and maintain some semblance of a Web presence. However, Civil Society reports that charities all over are finding it difficult to handle the mass amount of data now available to them.

According to an industry survey cited by the online publication, 57 percent of nonprofit organizations admitted that they're not properly utilizing their donor data for potential marketing and fundraising opportunities. Research found that 1 in 4 nonprofits actively struggle to manage their data, and the associated losses could be devastating.

Many charitable organizations, in an effort to organize and better manage their data, have invested in innovative donor software that works to streamline operations overall. While these programs have proven successful in providing sound structure, nonprofits still need to turn valuable contributor information into fundraising dollars and volunteer hours. To do that, charities should:

Use data to build donor profiles
With the interconnectivity of the Internet, marketers have been slowly shifting toward employing more targeted strategies, and with good results. According to a study from the Association for Psychological Science, consumers are more likely to respond to an advertisement if it has been specifically targeted to them.

Nonprofits can use donor information to build detailed donor profiles, helping your organization's marketers design promotional materials for specific contributors. This can be especially effective for long-term and more profitable donors.

Leverage data for new prospects
Once you've built a donor profile using your online fundraising tools, the data can be used in a variety of ways. Yes, fundraisers can leverage contributor details to help write pitches and draft materials, but the information is just as useful for identifying prospective donors.

In a 2013 article from Wealth Works, the online resource for nonprofits reports that by collecting and evaluating contributor data, charities can use analysis to develop "targeted and specific prospect lists." Fundraisers can then work to identify new donors and, potentially, new audiences altogether, securing future revenue streams while simultaneously promoting your organization's mission.

The importance of big data is not likely to dwindle in the near future, so it's in the best interest of your organization to hop on the bandwagon, and start collecting, analyzing and leveraging the value of information.

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