As Nonprofit leaders, it can sometimes feel like we are facing a never ending barrage of important, agency-defining decisions needing our immediate attention. On a good day, this can be an exhilarating and rewarding process that fuels our passion and clarifies our vision. On a bad one, the constant weighing of options and measuring results can become a heavy burden for our psyches to bear.

This being the case, whenever there is a reliable and effective method to lighten the load of decision making – I highly recommend you jump on it. Luckily, there exists such a method that is easy to implement and delivers exciting results.

In recent years, social data science has emerged as a powerful tool for identifying growth strategies for businesses, social movements and nonprofits. This science measures and monitors how humans interact and behave.

You may not be aware of the wide array of insights data provides. Read ahead to learn how you can use data to make better decisions for your nonprofit.

5 Ways To Lead With Data

1) Use Impact Data

          Every nonprofit has a mission. Impact Data can tell you with concrete certainty how effective your organization is at accomplishing its goals. For example, let’s say you run a nonprofit organization with the mission of finding shelter for battered women. Collecting data on the women your organization has helped (how satisfied they were with their housing, how long they stayed in that location, etc.) – can help you measure how well your mission strategy is working. It can also highlight areas that aren’t working as well and need improvement.

Also, Impact data is useful for marketing. Provide your target audience (donors, foundations, etc) with concrete evidence demonstrating how effective your organization is in carrying out its mission.

2)  Profile Your Ideal Donor Or Board Member

All nonprofits rely on donors to fund their operations, and board members to provide oversight, insight, and foresight.  Agencies achieve donor acquisition through marketing campaigns, brand development and in-person outreach. You can identify and recruit potential board members through a variety of methods. But how do you decide who makes up your best target audience? How do you objectively identify the board members who were most effective for your organization, and how to attract others like them?

Data can help you better understand your donors – what they are passionate about and what they are looking for in a cause. It can also help you identify the best people to make up your board of directors. This knowledge makes it easier to create more meaningful outreach – suited to the people you are recruiting to join your cause. Additionally, it can help you develop a highly valuable board of directors.

3) Decide Which Marketing Campaigns Work Best

        There are a variety of ways to reach your target audience. But, every audience is not created equal. Depending on the nature of your nonprofit, the topics you deal with, the goals you aim to achieve – your best marketing strategy may vary. Understanding how your audience interacts with your outreach is an important component to creating effective marketing campaigns. It is not difficult to use data to measure which strategies resonate best with your audience.

4) Identify Opportunities for Growth

       Sometimes, the vast number of potential paths to choose for your nonprofit organization can be overwhelming. Implementing data strategies can make the answer clear. What events worked best for your organization? Which topics are resonating most with your donors? How can you better achieve your goals? We can use data to decide which paths of growth are best suited for allocation of resources.

5) Drive Web Traffic

           If you have worked in the nonprofit sector in the last five to ten years, then I do not have to tell you how important online fundraising and outreach has become. Online nonprofit donations are skyrocketing as our world becomes increasingly digital. Understanding the user data on your website can provide a wealth of insight on how to best optimize your organization’s web presence. Measuring and monitoring the behavior of users on your site can illuminate which pages are most user friendly and which keywords are driving the most traffic to your site.

We are only scratching the surface here about the potential influence and power of this social data science. After all, 90% of the world’s data has been generated over the past two years! 

What is clear today – is that social data science helps organizations grow, become more effective in achieving their missions, and learn how to make a bigger impact for those they serve.


Are you leading with data….?