Brandon S. Hemel began his nonprofit career more than 20 years ago at the National MS Society before joining Friends of the Earth. There, he relied on spreadsheets to create donor reports, but has since embraced the evolution in technology that allows him to create interactive dashboards and custom views of donor data.
“I began as the membership manager at Friends of the Earth where I would use [Microsoft] Excel and [Microsoft] Access to build my own donor value reports by downloading data out of the Paradigm database,” he said. “Later, I taught myself Crystal Reports, [Microsoft] Power Pivot tools, DAX, various flavors of SQL, and Power Query.”
He moved to the agency side but returned to his current nonprofit employer, WETA, where he serves as senior director of data strategy and management for membership. Aside from helping the membership team raise more than $80 million, he has implemented integrations to improve efficiencies and established new reporting metrics used across PBS.
Hemel will be presenting at this year’s inaugural BridgeTECH, a tech-focused event for nonprofit executives, fundraisers and marketers on Aug. 2 at the 18th annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference. In the session, “Data Visualization for Fun and (Non)Profit,” Hemel, Joseph Miscavige, director of data distribution strategy for PBS, and Emily Courville, senior director of information solutions and analytics at Humane Society of the United States, will discuss best practices for implementing data dashboards for your nonprofit.
NonProfit PRO caught up with Hemel to learn more about his work in nonprofit technology and why he’s so passionate about using technology for reporting.
What impact has technology had on your nonprofit?
I operate from the mindset that if anything can be clicked on, then it also can be automated. Using this, I have worked with our database development partners to incorporate APIs between our CRM, our inbound call center, and our premium fulfillment partner. All these integrations have saved countless hours and increased efficiencies for WETA staff and all our systems.
Additionally, as a broadcaster, WETA has pivoted from just an over-the-air platform to a streaming platform. Our members’ streaming habits have informed WETA’s programming and allowed us to change our strategies to reach members via the platforms they want to use on their schedule.
What is the biggest struggle nonprofits have with technology and how has your nonprofit overcome that struggle?
The biggest struggle many nonprofits have with technology is how to manage limited resources and staff turnover. Often nonprofits struggle with costs and, therefore, staff often find workarounds and non-supported technology to perform their job.
WETA has overcome this struggle by partnering with our internal IT team and leveraging our Microsoft 365 licensing to build a virtual MS-SQL server as a back-end and Power BI as a front-end business intelligence tool.
Why is it so important for nonprofits to embrace technology regardless of staff size, revenue, overhead misconceptions, etc.?
Proper use of technology can make it easier to analyze and present information to both your coworkers and those your nonprofit serves.
What will you be presenting at BridgeTECH and why are you passionate about the subject?
I am presenting on choosing a business intelligence solution for your nonprofit and how to successfully implement it for greater adoption for your organization. I am passionate about this subject because people no longer want just printed reports or static spreadsheets. With proper preparation and planning, you can provide self-service BI to your organization.
Join Us at BridgeTECH
See Hemel, Miscavige and Courville share their nonprofit data intelligence expertise at BridgeTECH on Aug. 2 at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Sign up for BridgeTECH and the Bridge Conference by selecting the "BridgeTECH + Bridge" option.