The Data Every Nonprofit Should be Tracking

Data can be a daunting thing. IBM says that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day. There’s no denying that some of that information could be used by your organization, and you don’t need to be a statistics major to take advantage of it. Here are some things that can help you understand how your organization can use data for good.

Why You Should Collect Data

You may be skeptical of the benefits of collecting data, or think that it doesn’t translate well to your organization. The truth is that data can be used for almost anything. You could utilize it for everything from marketing and social media, to volunteer and donor management.

We conducted a recent survey on the state of data in the nonprofit sector, in conjunction with EveryAction. A common reason nonprofits listed for not collecting data was the time commitment that tracking and interpreting it takes. While adding another responsibility to your already-full schedule doesn’t sound like the best idea, implementing data into your operations can save you time doing other tasks, as well as improve the quality of your work.

Types of Data to Collect

Data can be found in many of the tasks that are done on a daily basis. Here are some common types of data that nonprofits said they were tracking:

  • Donor and Volunteer Management
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Website Optimization

Where to Collect Data

With as much data as there is, it can be hard to start compiling usable information. Start by getting demographic information from your donors and volunteers, use software to track how user-friendly your website is, or keep data on the performance of marketing campaigns.

One essential aspect of data collection is the use of software tools. A quick Google search shows that there are plenty of options available for any budget. While they all do essentially the same thing, the way each goes about doing it is anything but similar. Find one that works the best for the person responsible for monitoring data, because the software is only as useful as what you can get out of it.

Data is for Everybody

Many people think of data as something that can be utilized only by the largest companies, but this is simply not true. Data can be used in many different ways, regardless of the size of your organization.

Another misconception is that you need to have somebody dedicated solely to data management for it to be effective. In reality, it doesn’t need to be a full-time job. It can be done by somebody with other responsibilities. If this is the case, it’s important that the person set aside time specifically for data management and analyzation.


As intimidating as data can be, you can’t shy away from it—even in the nonprofit sector. The benefits that are possible with good data management are too good to deny. Start slow and get your feet under you, then continue to build on what you learn from the information.

See how 500 nonprofits track and use data in our free whitepaper: The State of Data in the Nonprofit Sector.

nonprofit information tracking

March 14, 2016

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