What the Democratization of Data Means for Nonprofit Leaders
You’ve probably heard the term “big data” and seen reports about how it’s one of the most important tech advances of our day, transforming all sorts of different industries. It’s true—big data can be pretty revolutionary.
But you don’t often hear about nonprofits using big data to their advantage, though it has high potential value. That’s starting to change, thanks to improved technology and increased awareness about how to use data. In 2017, the democratization of data is poised to have a substantial impact in the nonprofit sector.
What Is the Democratization of Data?
Data used to belong to the realm of specialists and required a big tech budget and advanced equipment. Although large companies were able to collect useful data, it wasn’t accessible to everyone and was managed by IT and data analysis experts.
The digital revolution caused tech companies to begin focusing on making products more for individuals than for companies. Both hardware and software became more user-friendly and no longer required as much expertise to work with.
As a result, it’s now much easier to find companies that make software and program testing accessible to people who don’t have data research backgrounds. The democratization of data simply means this level of research and understanding is now available to everyone.
As technology continues to progress, the cost and skill barriers to using data for decision-making are being steadily removed. We’re able to collect increasing amounts of more accurate and detailed data as well.
How Can It Help Nonprofits?
Nonprofits of all sizes and in all sectors can take advantage of this trend and use data to help improve their organization.
The information nonprofits can collect about their donors, volunteers, members and other relevant groups is extremely valuable. Keeping track of this data through systems such as customer-relationship management software can help them to more effectively reach people and lead to more engagement.
Data provides you with more insight into people’s interests and habits and allows you to better predict what will make them take certain actions, such as making donations to your nonprofit.
Data can also help charitable organizations improve their own operations. Analyzing information about marketing campaigns, for example, can allow nonprofits to determine what works well and what doesn’t. For example, if an organization can see what kinds of emails generated the most donations, they can do more of that in the future and increase the amount of contributions they receive.
Modern technology allows us to easily collect and analyze data, as well as gain valuable insights from it. This capability is now available to nonprofits of virtually any size and type and can be tremendously effective at helping them reach people, grow their organization and meet their other goals, as well. Now that data is much more readily available to everyone, including nonprofit leaders, it can be used for social good, among many other things.