In April 2012 NTEN worked with Idealware to conduct a survey of nonprofits about their relationships with data, and what we found was a large dichotomy—either they were doing a lot with their metrics or not much at all.
In addition, we learned that internal factors–such as staff capacity, expertise, and budget–as well as external demands and stakeholders—including funders; local, state and federal governments; donors; clients; and community groups—also hinder an organization’s ability to make strategic use of data they have collected.
Too often barriers keep nonprofits from collecting and integrating important data into their daily work. The barriers are familiar to those who work in and with nonprofits: not enough staff or time to collect or analyze this data; not knowing what data to collect or how to make use of it; competing demands or conflicting reporting requirements; money or technology limitations. Furthermore, we found that how nonprofits are currently using data does not necessarily reflect how they would like to use it.
Here is a sample of what we found:
- 99% of respondents track some sort of metrics
- 89% track financial data and find it useful for making decisions
- 50% are tracking data about outcomes of clients/constituents
- 41% are tracking external data about their issue area
- 39% use donor data to make budgeting decisions
- 26% use donor data to make program decisions
Download the complete report with more statistics and valuable insights and lessons gleaned from a survey of US nonprofits and focus groups with nonprofit staff, foundation staff, and nonprofit consultants:
We’d like to thank Google for supporting this research project.