Make Your Data Strategy Drive Your Organizational Strategy

 In Data, Information Strategy

Make data central to how your nonprofit works.

From creating targeted engagement, to really understanding impact, nonprofits are increasingly investing in data. Nonprofits that understand data can better adapt to evolving trends, pivot how they work, and anticipate future opportunities.

But, sometimes the most impactful investments extend beyond technology. Nonprofits that have invested in staffing, data literacy, and the democratization of data help nurture a culture of data.

Build has identified five key differentiators that nonprofits investing in data have. These are the building blocks of aligning your data strategy to your organization strategy. A data strategy, for many nonprofits, becomes one of innovation and exploring new ideas. People have the rapid insights to adapt to changes or build upon success. Aligning your data strategy with your organizational strategy starts with five steps, and the first step is culture.

Create a data-centric culture

Integrate key data insights into decision-making, analysis, and planning. When data becomes part and parcel of decisions, your team will increasingly benefit from high-value, real-time data. This moves many nonprofits from anecdotal insights to analytical insights.

“Should we do this?” evolves to “Where does the data lead us?” Asking about and integrating data into decisions is a key signal you’ve built a data-centric culture.

These are the insights that foster a culture craving data that can drive growth, expand reach, and measure impact.

Democratize your data

The access and availability of high-quality, and timely data is central to getting your team using data in new ways. In addition to making investments in data platforms, tools, and reporting, there should be low-effort ways for staff to explore data. Exploration begets questions, and those questions are often the start of finding new opportunities. Democratize your data so it takes any friction away from your team accessing the data they need to inform their work.

Invest in data literacy

How many of your staff have had learning opportunities focused on data literacy? From onboarding to ongoing professional development, building data literacy helps build comfort participating in, and leading conversations driven by data. Upskilling your staff will help your staff use data to inform decisions, creating a cultural virtuous cycle.

Create organizational metrics

Organization metrics help create a shared understanding of what is being measured, and why the metric is important. Beyond traditional revenue metrics, what are the data signals that tell your staff, Board, and leadership that you’re making an impact? Organizational metrics help your team understand their shared role in success and impact beyond the work of individual teams.

Protect your data ecosystem

Governance, protection, and privacy help create trust in data, tools, and practices. Justifiably, people want to know why data is collected, how it’s used, how it’s stored, and how it’s protected. Absence of trust in any of this erodes the quality of data. Creating a strong data governance framework sends the right trust signals to your team and your constituents.

Gartner’s Sixth Annual Chief Data Officer (CDO) Survey shows that CDO success is characterized by an ability to provide measurable value to multiple business stakeholders. Unsuccessful CDOs focus on technology instead of people. Old Organization + New Technology = Expensive Old Organization

At Build, we use our Information Strategy Framework to help our clients create the governance, operations, and processes, and technology needed to harness data. Check out our whitepaper to dive into each of the elements and understand what’s required of the modern nonprofit looking to make data central to how it works.