Nonprofit Organizations Using Data Science
By Christina Lee
Data science has been a hot topic for some time, data science is used by all kinds of businesses and organizations. However, believe it or not, data science has already made its way into – of all places – nonprofit organizations. A lot has changed since nonprofits began forming to implore the public to support a number of causes: blood donations, military support efforts, mental health awareness… (just to name a few).
But how many nonprofits are using this data to their advantage? The truth is, about 53% of nonprofit organizations are able to pull useful data with ease, according to the University of San Diego. Why? Too often, either nonprofits aren’t aware of the potential that data science has, or they don’t have a dedicated data analytics system to use.
In hindsight, data can help nonprofits in the following ways:
• Maximize effectiveness of organizational efforts through data-driven insights
• Help establish the right goals and programs based on the data
• Legitimize the purpose of funding their cause to attract new donors, as well as keep current donors, etc.
In turn, nonprofits can do either of the following to collect such valuable data:
• Use data analysis systems
• Consult data science consultants, OR
• Hire freelance data scientists
In this way, nonprofits can use data to gain insights that can help them drive decision-making.
So, how do nonprofits use data science?
This overview will look at four of the most common ways data science is used by nonprofits.
1. Streamlining Funds
First and foremost, people might be wary about where their money is going whenever they donate to a cause. Without answers, people might hold off on donating to something that should’ve been great to begin with.
Data science can help nonprofits find cost-effective ways to streamline funds that they receive from willing donors. This allows them to use their monetary resources in ways that are reputable. In this way, how donors’ money is spent towards a cause will be transparent and trustworthy to backers.
2. Fundraising And Marketing
Nowadays, people want legitimate as to why they should support a cause. With data science, nonprofits can fine-tune their fundraising by tapping into the analytics of their fundraising efforts thus far. In other words, the data can help them answer the following questions:
• Who is donating to the cause?
• How often are people donating?
• When are the best times during the week or month are people donating? And so on…
Once nonprofits study the marketing data, then they’re able to fine-tune their fundraising efforts to where they’ll see more backers supporting their cause.
3. Implementing And Monitoring Specific Activities
Not sure what type of event to host for your next campaign? Then look at the data!
Data science can also help nonprofits accurately measure the performance of the activities that they choose to implement. Whenever they start a campaign, they’re able to track it with the analytics provided to them through the data. In turn, the data can help organizations tailor their processes towards getting better results for future campaigns.
Such activities include:
• In-person events
• Donation spots, and so on…
4. Examining Social Media Habits With NLP
Finally, data science can also help nonprofits tap into what people are doing on social media. In fact, there’s a process called Natural Language Processing (NLP) that can be used to analyze people’s social media behaviors. When these behaviors are analyzed by nonprofits, they in turn can develop better strategies for fundraising and marketing. In this way, nonprofits can use this data to do the following:
• Promote effective fundraising efforts, AND
• Identify most effective uses of funding
And, of course, nonprofits can have their own social media accounts, so that interested parties can follow them and, perhaps, donate to their cause.
Ultimately, data science can help aid nonprofit efforts, and ensuring an ongoing stream of support from backers. By tapping into what works and what doesn’t work, nonprofits can fine-tune their efforts, and make their campaigns successful.
Unfortunately, there are many nonprofits that don’t know the full extent of how data science can help them. Don’t let that be your nonprofit!
With data readily available, nonprofits can use data science to their advantage. By harnessing the power of data, nonprofits can make their campaigns more effective and believable to prospective donors, while maintaining their current donor base.