5 Common (Easily Preventable!) Mistakes Nonprofits Make with Data

Data is power — the more you know about your donor pool, the more effectively you can work with them to meet your fundraising goals.

Of course, collecting data … that can be a whole other story. Even in this age of unprecedented access to data, it can be hard to know exactly what you need to collect, what’s relevant and what’s not, and of course, what to do with it when you’ve got it.

To make things easier, we’re sharing the five most common mistakes we see nonprofits make with their data.

1. Messy data

Messy data is data that has duplicate entries, missing fields, or, often, both. This is really common among nonprofits, especially if you don’t have a coordinated data gathering and organization strategy. For instance, if you collect donor emails both from your website and from people who give via mail, you can easily end up with a duplicate entry for the same person.

2. Skinny data

Data’s called “skinny” when there’s just not that much dimensionality to it. Maybe you collect donors’ names and emails, but no more. That’s certainly better than nothing. But it’s way too skinny to be all that useful. Generally speaking, the more dimensions — aka types of information you gather — the better.

3. Short data

A short dataset is one where there’s not enough entries to be useful. Unlike the skinny dataset, where there’s not enough information about individual entries, with a short dataset there’s not enough entries, period. This is one of the easiest data issues to fix though — all you have to do is get more contact records! Easy right?

4. Badly labeled data

You might have a really robust data set, but if the data in it is inconsistently or incorrectly labeled, you’ve got problems. For instance, let’s say that you’re trying to use your data set to identify the people most likely to donate during this years’ funding drive. If you haven’t designated which of your contacts have actually donated before (that’s the label, btw), then you’ve got problems. Similarly, if you have multiple sets of labels that overlap, or you’ve got records inaccurately labeled, you’re really limited in what you can do with your data.

And finally, the 5th and — to us, most tragic — mistake … you’re not using your data!

The very best database in the world is useless if you don’t actually use it to make smart decisions about your fundraising. And yet, lots of nonprofs just don’t really use what they’ve got. They get overwhelmed, or they have other strategic priorities that take precedence, or they don’t know where to start, and so all that lovely data goes to waste.

It doesn’t have to be this way though — boodleAI is here to help. We make it really easy to use your data, collect more data about your donors and future donors, and actually put that data to good use with managed micro-campaigns. Find out how we can help your org here.

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About boodleAI

boodleAI is changing the game for donor acquisition and retention by delivering groundbreaking lifts in donations, engagement, and lifetime retention rates. We have revolutionized donor prospecting by dynamically providing high-quality, mission-aligned donor prospects directly to nonprofits. Using our seamless advertising solutions, converting these AI-curated donor prospects into lifetime donors has never been easier.