Data Intelligence for the Charity Sector

With the majority of large commercial organisations embracing Big Data as a means to refine their products and better understand their customers, the charitable sector has been slow to adopt the same techniques to streamline their operations and increase their donation rates.

A recent report by NPC, a think-tank focussed on bringing charities and funders together, suggests that many charities are unaware of the value of the data that they already possess and how easy it is to use that data to increase donations and improve their impact.

Where retailers are using data analytics to better understand their customers’ needs and to create targeted marketing campaigns, charities could be using the same techniques to create closer relationships with their funders and to maximise donations.

The NPC report identifies three reasons that data and analytics are vital to charities:

  1. Understanding needs and issues better;
  2. To improve operational effectiveness; and
  3. To improve the understanding of results and impact.

Charities could be using the same techniques to create closer relationships with their funders and to maximise donations.

Charities both large and small can benefit from many of the recent Open Data initiatives that make huge quantities of valuable data available to the public. These data can be combined with data held in any charity’s database and using both off-the-shelf and bespoke statistical techniques they can be transformed into actionable intelligence – information that can help charities raise more funds and spend them more wisely.

The NPC report goes on to highlight the 3 key reasons that many charities have been slow to realise the value of data analytics to their organisation:

  1. They are unaware of the data available or do not understand it;
  2. They do not recognise the potential or have a vision of what can be achieved with their data; and
  3. They do not have the skills to analyse data or to understand the results.

All of these barriers can be overcome with a little statistical advice and support. The statistical techniques are already available and being used to good effect in the commercial World and the data are already available and cheap to obtain. The potential impact of just a small investment in order to make better use of the data available could be enormous and the NPC report cites many examples where this has been the case. For example, in an NCVO blog, Laura, a policy officer at Barnsley Hospice, explains how they were able to combine their data with local socio-economic data to create a highly targeted fundraising campaign and to identify inequalities in the availability of care, showing the hospice that they needed to widen access to care for those in areas with greater socio-economic deprivation.

At Select we’ve helped many commercial organisations make better use of their data and have the expertise and experience that charities need in order to do the same. If you’re a charity looking to improve your fund-raising or to ensure that you’re making the best use of the resources you have available, Contact Us to find out how we can help.