Data transformation relates to changing the format or structure of information. Committing to such undertakings can positively affect how nonprofits operate. Here’s a closer look at why it’s often useful and necessary for nonprofits to alter how they format, structure and use data.
Improve Engagement and Reach
People at a successful nonprofit want to do everything possible to carry out the organization’s mission and values. Some of them do that by pursuing a digital strategy rather than being so reliant on physical forms of information.
A 2022 study showed that 65% of nonprofits connect with beneficiaries digitally. Moreover, 89% of nonprofit respondents agreed that digital communications were essential for achieving their organizations’ missions.
Some nonprofits use digital communications in specific ways. For example, 45% of respondents relied on them to help people learn about their programs and services. That could attract more potential service users while inspiring community members to give generous donations.
This shift towards digital data makes sense. After all, some people move frequently, meaning paper communications may go undelivered. That’s especially true if a nonprofit works with people experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. Such individuals may reside in numerous physical locations, such as shelters, in a given year, making their postal addresses unreliable. In contrast, many individuals keep using the same email addresses for years.
Plus, it’s often more cost-effective for nonprofits to use digital forms of communication rather than paper-based ones. Sending things by email lets them avoid the expenses associated with printing and postal supplies.
Many nonprofits, especially those primarily operating at the local level, have small teams and numerous resource limitations. Given that reality, it’s troubling that 78% of nonprofit respondents reported spending at least 25% of their workdays grappling with multiple systems.
However, when people at nonprofits commit to finishing their data transformations, the outcomes could help teams make better use of their time and other resources. For example, they may find it’s no longer necessary to use certain platforms because the transformation made the data more manageable.
Similarly, the data transformation may cause a restructuring of information. Then, people tasked with specific duties don’t have to sift through irrelevant data to find what they need. That boosted productivity can also facilitate using products such as data analytics tools.
Then, nonprofit workers will have a clearer understanding of the impact of their work. They can examine historical data or use predictive algorithms to get suggestions for meeting specific goals.
Make It Easier to Meet Obligations
Moving ahead with a data transformation can help nonprofits fulfill all requirements. For example, every nonprofit in the United States must file annual forms with state and federal authorities. Plus, each state has specific requirements nonprofit organizations must meet to retain tax-exempt status.
It can sometimes feel like engaging with tax authorities and similar regulators can give the nonprofit less time to invest in its service users. However, a data transformation plan may make it simpler to meet requirements.
Perhaps an organization’s tax data is currently in a hard-to-manage format or structure. Making strategic changes could help people more efficiently gather the information needed before annual filing deadlines pass.
When that happens, people take care of those duties sooner and with less frustration. Such outcomes typically result in having more time to devote to meeting the nonprofit’s core goals.
However, many nonprofits still have room for improvement. A 2021 survey found that 76% of nonprofits lacked a data strategy. Some organizations may find it easier to justify having one if they link the expected benefits to workflows. When nonprofit workers struggle to do more with less, every little bit helps to enhance how they get things done.
Data Transformations Make Nonprofits Better Equipped to Excel
Working at a nonprofit organization is often challenging. A data transformation can’t remove all obstacles, but it can lessen them. Keep the information here in mind before, during and after embarking on a data transformation effort.