A good nonprofit database manager is hard to find

 In Capacity

One of the largest challenges facing Build’s nonprofit clients is hiring and retaining excellent database managers.

Watch the video! This blog post is the basis for a webinar, with extended content.

Why is this a problem?

  • Lack of good data management is a source of significant inefficiencies at nonprofit organizations, impacting everything from fundraising to program outcome reporting (and everything in between).
  • When you lose a good database manager, it can be a major disruption to organizational operations—particularly if you aren’t able to quickly find an equally high-quality replacement.

Why do nonprofits struggle to hire good database managers?

  1. Not enough talent to go around. There just aren’t that many database managers with the skills, experience, and judgment to thrive within today’s data-thirsty nonprofit environments.
  2. Undervaluing the role. Nonprofits expect the database manager to perform at a high level, but often don’t mirror that expectation with the right compensation.
  3. Poor hiring process. Nonprofits often don’t know how to express what the job really entails, or fail to recruit in the right places. Therefore, they often end up picking the best from among a group of less qualified candidates.

Why do nonprofits have difficulty retaining good database managers?

  1. See the first two points above. Good talent is in demand and often undercompensated. If a good database manager finds an organization willing to value their skills at a higher level, they often move on.
  2. Poor understanding of data management. Data management is often the least understood part of the business. Too often the complexity of the role is overlooked. (No, it doesn’t happen magically!) This leads to constant overtasking of database managers, resulting in burn-out.
  3. Lack of support from the organization. Database managers are held responsible for data quality. However, they typically do not have the authority to enforce good data practices by others within the organization. This can lead to database managers being blamed for data integrity problems over which they have no control.

How to hire and retain a good database manager

  1. Conduct a data management assessment. It is important that an organization’s leadership understand the proper function of data management and get a best-practice-based assessment of their current practices across the organization. This need not be costly and can help create an environment in which an incoming database manager can thrive.
  2. Learn how to approach the hiring process. Organizations need to learn how to define and describe the database manager role for their needs, place the right value on the role, and recruit in the right places.
  3. Consider outsourcing the database manager role. Small-to-midsize nonprofits may not require a full-time database manager to get the skills they most require. In this case, outsourcing the database manager role can be a high-value, cost-effective solution—either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Read more: Not sure what a database manager does, or what their primary role should be? See “What Is a Nonprofit Database Manager?”

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