[GUEST POST] Data Freedom and the Modern Nonprofit

Data has become more important than ever to nonprofits, especially those in the peer-to-peer fundraising space. Massive increases in charitable giving conducted through multiple devices (phone, tablets, desktops) driven by multiple marketing channels (social, mobile, search, etc.) has grown exponentially over the last several years. This has generated an enormous amount of data, creating an opportunity for organizations to be much more informed and confident in their decision-making. The benefits are numerous, including more relevant and targeted outreach, higher engagement, and increased revenue. Of course, to achieve this nirvana, it requires the right mix of modern systems.

The old school model of having a single solution or home-grown system(s) to handle all critical operating functions of a nonprofit needs an overhaul.
Technical debt, the overall software disorder, simply grows and dramatically hinders the ability to rapidly change with the times. Evolving fast enough becomes prohibitive and expensive, and often leads to user frustration. On the other hand, more agile players who provide a more focused, innovative offering tend to release product updates more frequently. Responding quickly to community feedback in an actionable way is essential to an organization’s success, and the same is true for technology providers.

The good news is nonprofits no longer have to put all their eggs in one basket, giving them more leverage in their supplier relationships. They are challenging the status quo and they have options. This is in part due to Millennials in the workforce (now the largest group), but people from every generation are simply much more savvy. Organizations are raising the bar by diversifying their technology investments. I refer to this group as the modern nonprofit. They’re embracing the model of connecting multiple solutions by different leading companies, also known as best-in-class mashups — and it is gaining momentum. It holds us as providers more accountable and as a result, the cause benefits. That’s how it should be.

The modern nonprofit aggressively vets, selects, and integrates the best options for their needs.
That includes the best peer-to-peer platform, the best marketing automation tools, the best CMS, the best CRM, the best advocacy solution, the best analytics package, etc. Data captured from each solution flows in and out of the CRM of record and/or data warehouses, repositories of integrated data from one or more sources. I like data warehouses because they keep ALL client-owned data in a neutral “Switzerland” data store where the client can’t really be “data handcuffed” in any way. It makes it easier and less invasive to transition to new solutions. The other benefit is it’s a perfect environment for reporting and analyzing the master data-set for any business intelligence need. This is where significant value is spawned from if it’s mined properly and perpetually put to good use.

The trends and data insights gained through system mashup architectures are allowing the modern nonprofit to take huge strides forward with their fundraising to accelerate growth. It is providing real-time visibility into the good and the bad so nonprofits can quickly correct course or double down. It is providing data transparency like never before, making it easier to dissect user behaviors and drive better user experiences.

The digital transformations occurring in the nonprofit industry will continue to play a major role in hitting new heights in fundraising.
They’re happening inside every size organization and in every segment. But like anything, you’ll get out what you put in. It will take vision, heart, planning, and the right collaborations to reach that next level. There is no better time than the present for a nonprofit to begin that new journey. Data freedom — through open, integrated systems — will continue to bloom and return significant value to the modern nonprofit, their cause, and the people they serve.

by Paul G. Ghiz, President & Chief Innovation Officer, DonorDrive® Peer-to-Peer Fundraising by Global Cloud®
Paul’s career has been focused on improving lives through technology and user experiences. He creatively collaborates with nonprofits to accelerate revenue and deliver high social impact. Paul is an Advisor to Stony Brook University Innovation Center & Business School.

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