If you’re feeling the pressure to show progress and impact with data, you are not alone. The demand for data and analytics capabilities is putting pressure on nonprofits across the globe, as constant connectivity creates an abundance of data and digitalization of operations become the norm. Now more than ever, the nonprofit sector must ensure their data and analytics capabilities are keeping pace.
In a new report – Leap Before You Lag: Nonprofits With Deeper Data Capabilities See Stronger Impact, Transparency and Decisions – you will get a first-of-a-kind view of the current state of the charitable sector in data and analytics, and pragmatic guidance for nonprofits on how to advance. It boldly calls for nonprofits and funders alike to evaluate their funding practices, and prioritize data funding to match reporting demands.
The research findings are based on the results and insights of over 250 data & analytics Impact Grants that IBM has awarded to nonprofits across the world to gain deeper insights into how nonprofits can accelerate their analytics capabilities. To inform the research from a broader sample of nonprofit experiences, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Responsibility, the IBM Institute for Business Value, and Independent Sector conducted a global survey to understand current data practices and barriers. We collected responses from 330 nonprofit leaders in 34 countries, shedding light on their practices, aspirations, and constraints.
We understand that with tight budgets and pressure to counteract the “overhead” narrative, nonprofits have a set of real challenges in pushing their analytics capabilities forward. Knowing this reality, we wanted to assess where the sector stands today and what might be holding us back from progress in this area.
We found the research to be clear: advancing in data and analytics matters. Nonprofits with advanced capabilities indicated higher effectiveness in performing their mission among other key metrics. Yet, 67 percent fall in the early stages of the analytics journey – with an overwhelming 74 percent of respondents indicating that budget was a primary barrier to advancement.
Funding is at the center of the constraints nonprofits face in advancing analytics. Nonprofit executives must make tough decisions on where to allocate limited funds, and are restricted in investing in internal operations at their own discretion. While funders demand analysis, there are often not designated funds associated with the required cost of these analytics.
We deeply believe achieving success in this space will only ensure all of our organizations are meeting our missions and successfully serving our communities. We hope you’ll take the time to read the report and get a personalized roadmap for how to accelerate your progress in this work with this online tool.
Dan Cardinali is the president and CEO of Independent Sector. Diane Melley is the vice president, global citizenship initiatives in IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and on the board of Independent Sector.