The importance of data in the social sector can’t be overstated. Data presents insight into constituents’ unique situations and helps tell their stories. It also provides a more holistic view into programs and guides decision-making. Most importantly, data has the power to validate the impact of NPOs to secure funder investment.
“Focus on outcomes, not just activities and use software to measure how well nonprofit organizations and government agencies do to serve the needs of kids.” – Steve Ballmer, Co-Founder of Ballmer Group
Drive Funder Investment While Delivering on Your Mission
Funders now expect data-driven evidence of an organization’s impact. The idea of “checkbook philanthropy” – giving to a cause on an ad hoc basis without follow-up – is fading from the nonprofit space. As is “drive-by philanthropy” – making contributions to many causes without engaging with them. Today, donors want legitimacy. In fact, one study from Markets for Good found that donor activity increased by 44 percent when shown additional data.
There’s a shift happening. Funders want more visibility from nonprofits, and nonprofits want more funder investment and participation.
Data gives both groups what they desire. For example, nonprofits using case management systems can track programs more accurately and maximize their efforts. Software often comes with built-in reporting capabilities to give organizations and funders the evidence to answer the questions, “What did we do?” and “How much did it matter?”
Building Trust With Data
When an organization can answer these questions, it can prove it’s delivering on its mission with data. This will help nonprofits gain the trust and financial backing of funders. If nonprofits can show funders how their dollar contributed to a positive outcome in the community, whether it’s feeding a homeless shelter or keeping a child in school, they will earn investor interest and participation.
This creates a positive feedback loop where both the organization and funder get the visibility each need while using data to prove the impact of their vision. This fosters a stronger and more transparent relationship between the nonprofit and its stakeholders. It also builds trust in communities and facilitates collaboration across the private and public sectors to serve those in need.
For K-12 education, using case management software can be particularly effective for at-risk students. Social Solutions, with support from the Ballmer Group, is using data to provide a panoramic view of student life. Low grades, moving from one school to another, and coming from a disadvantaged background can impede student success. Case management software and emerging trends in data science, like machine learning, can help case workers fill in the gaps of a student’s situation. This enables nonprofits to identify early warning signs and course-correct as needed.
In his keynote speech at Impact Summit last month, Steve Ballmer touched on the importance of data to give disadvantaged youth more opportunities. “In almost any tough set of challenges, I see software as a key enabler of people doing better and being more productive,” said Ballmer.
For example, if a student is excelling in their program, this too will show in data and allow nonprofits to place the student in a more challenging program. Research shows that students who are connected to mentors have better grades, academic success, and career earnings post-graduation.
The processes used by many today only allow for partial insight into these variables. With the help of case management system data, nonprofits can move to more evidence-based practices and secure more confidence, trust, and funder investment.
Bringing Impact to Life
Doing more social good for those in need is rewarding work, but its effectiveness is impossible to measure without data. As data-driven insights become the industry standard, it’s important for nonprofits to adopt software that clearly evaluates the organization’s impact. Without it, organizations risk falling behind in funder support and the general nonprofit sphere.
Learn how Social Solutions’ data-driven software can help your organization secure funder investment and interest.