Nonprofits need to love their Data: Recap of Nonprofits + Data Summit
This was the resounding theme of last week’s NTEN Nonprofit + Data Summit right here in Seattle. This one day event was held in-person but live-streamed out to a wider audience. Our NPower team was in high attendance and thoroughly enjoyed the various panels, the delicious lunch and the chance to meet up with many of our nonprofit friends from across Seattle. Here is my brief re-cap of several of the sessions...
This was the resounding theme of last week’s NTEN Nonprofit + Data Summit right here in Seattle. This one day event was held in-person but live-streamed out to a wider audience. Our NPower team was in high attendance and thoroughly enjoyed the various panels, the delicious lunch and the chance to meet up with many of our nonprofit friends from across Seattle. Here is my brief re-cap of several of the sessions.
10 Rules of Engagement - Karen Uffleman, Groundwire
Karen spoke eloquently about the process of building engagement and outlined her 10 rules as follows:
- Understand your theory of change
- Identify your key audiences
- Know what you want them to do
- Know what they want from you
- Have a plan for what’s next
- Use an engagement framework
- Use an engagement platform
- Don’t forget the middle of your pyramid
- Love your data
- Constituents = friends
One highlight from Karen’s talk (in addition to her brilliant Star Trek reference) was her reminder to know what your audience values and would be willing to pay for, even if you currently provide it for free. This can be a helpful reminder in the world of online communications. For example, if your donor newsletter is only getting a 3% open rate, it is probably not considered valuable by those on the receiving end and most likely needs a re-evaluation. Karen’s session provided an excellent foundation for the following sessions and some keen insights into ways to base engagement decisions on good data.
Making the Case for Going Open Data - Tobias Eigen, Kabissa
The next session was split into a leadership and technical track. I attended Tobias’s talk about how Kabissa, a nonprofit network in Africa that connects people & organizations for peer-learning and information sharing, went open data. “Open data” is defined as data that “anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it -- subject only, at most, to the requirements to attribute and share-alike.. The benefits to nonprofits are three-fold and include:
- Increased transparency: Supporters often like to know what is going on inside an organization. Allowing access to one’s data helps increase access and build the common good.
- Improved data tools: Others will be able to take your data to places that don’t occur to you or that you can’t afford
- Added scrutiny - More feedback from more people leads to better and more useful data
Tobias also included these 4 steps to opening up data
- Choose datasets
- Apply an open license
- Make data available
- Make your data discoverable
Donor + Mission Management Data - Cat Monaghan, Idealist Consulting
Cat gave an excellent overview of the process that needs to occur when selecting and implementing a data management system. She also reminded us that there are options beyond just super fancy CRM database or 50 excel spreadsheets. Here were 4 examples she gave of other unified system options:
- CRM with apps that pull data into the system: donations, volunteer signup, etc. CRM = brain, other systems equal limbs
- CRM not connected to outside data -- data moved manually into CRM
- CRM with integrations created for data exchange with other freestanding systems (donor management, accounting, etc.)
- Dashboard tools connected to freestanding systems that consolidate data into an at-a-glance, visual format.
User Adoption: Building a Culture that embraces Technology - Nicholas Merriam, Building Changes
Nicholas used his experience helping his organization, Building Changes, implement Salesforce with the adoption challenge that many organizations face when trying something new. He reminded us that adoption can’t be thought of in a vacuum but needs to coordinate with all levels of strategy. Here are a few of Nicholas’ adoption philosophies:
- If you build it, they won’t necessarily come
- Consultants help, but they can’t do the internal work for you
- People support what they help create
- Technology is only as good as the process it supports
- Leadership matters, but so does everyone else
Overall, the day was jam-packed with useful information and a great chance to share the joys and tribulations of nonprofit data with peers from the field. Thanks to NTEN for sponsoring this event, John Kenyon for his skillful moderation and all the awesome presenters! Also, coming up tomorrow will be Elissa's recap of her favorite session of the day!
For your added enjoyment, here are some of our favorites from all the live-tweeting that happened during the day:
- Abby Nafziger