For a nonprofit organization, gaining a better understanding of the data in their system can go a long way towards helping them achieve their mission. Why is data so important for nonprofit organizations? Ultimately, it all comes down to accountability.
The right nonprofit software solution can help you understand your data and find that accountability. It should be one that is user-friendly, effective and thorough. When buying software, you may think the technology aspect is the most important, but it is truly about having the right attitude and change management in place. If you have the right attitude and right people to involve in that change management, there will be success.
The importance of data
Far too often, many organizations look to find nonprofit software solutions following years of only using Excel files and Word docs to keep track of their data. I have actually heard some say that they “just do chicken scratch when reporting.”
The problem with having inconsistent methods of tracking data stems from the need for reporting at an organizational level. A nonprofit’s data and reporting play a vital role in helping it with funding, with reports being able to produce hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes.
Having the right nonprofit software solutions available helps hold an organization accountable - it allows it to have valid reports and audit trails for those reports so it can share information with its board which may help increase funding. With more funding, these organizations are able to provide an even higher quality of care for their clients.
Data that can be input through nonprofit software solutions
When considering the various types of data that can commonly be included on a software program, most nonprofits will typically be looking for items such as these:
- Basic client demographics
- Case notes for therapy sessions
- Treatment plans
- Scanned documents, which could include previous placements, court info and photos)
- Psychological assessments
- Drug assessments
- Home studies
How understanding data helps achieve the mission
By having the right systems in place, your organization will be able to not only stay accountable but when you know your data, you will be able to see what is being done right and what could be improved on. The data can help you manage relationships to keep your great people happy, make your good people great and expose deficiencies in the agency.
You should be tracking the organization’s goals and using the data to track how long it takes to reach them. Perhaps the data can show new training and therapeutic techniques are needed or can be used to make sure the counselors are in the right position. By extrapolating your data, it is possible to provide a higher quality of care for the clients.
While the majority of nonprofit organizations are in the business of helping people, it’s always important to have effective systems in place. Having the right nonprofit software solutions can help make data easier to get to, utilize and learn from, which ultimately helps move you closer to achieving your mission.
By Dave Becker
Project Manager | Engineer