If your not-for-profit wants to improve its budgeting, forecasting, fundraising or other functions but is having a hard time identifying both problems and solutions, data analytics can help. This form of business intelligence is already considered invaluable in the for-profit world. But it can be just as useful to not-for-profits.

Informed Decision Making
Data analytics is the science of collecting and analyzing sets of data to develop useful insights, connections and patterns that can lead to more informed decision making. It produces such metrics as program efficacy, outcomes vs. efforts, and membership renewal that can reflect past and current performance and, in turn, predict and guide future performance.

The data usually comes from two sources:

  1. Internal – Examples include your organization’s databases of detailed information on donors, beneficiaries or members.
  2. External – This type of information can be obtained from government databases, social media and other organizations, both non- and for-profit.

Applied Advantages
Data analytics can help your organization validate trends, uncover root causes and improve transparency. For example, analysis of certain fundraising data makes it easier to target those individuals most likely to contribute to your nonprofit.

It typically facilitates fact-based discussions and planning, which is helpful when considering new initiatives or cost-cutting measures that stir political or emotional waters. The ability to predict outcomes can support sensitive programming decisions by considering data on a wide range of factors —  such as at-risk populations, funding restrictions, offerings available from other organizations and grantmaker priorities.

Needs Dictate Your Purchase
Your organization’s informational needs should dictate the data analytics package you buy. Thousands of potential performance metrics can be produced, but not all of them will be useful. So keeping in mind your most important programs, identify those metrics that matter most to stakeholders and that truly drive decisions. Also ensure that the technology solution you choose complies with any applicable privacy and security regulations, as well as your organization’s ethical standards.

You can adopt the most cutting-edge software, but if your staff aren’t on board, data analytics will be of little benefit. Note that you may need to hire or develop qualified staff to conduct data analytics and convert the results into actionable intelligence.

Make the Most of It
Before you choose a technology, make sure your organization, including your staff, is ready to make the most of it. We can help steer you in the right direction.

Russ:  This is the PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook.  I’m Russ Capper, this week’s guest host, and I’m here today with Brian Baumler, a Senior Vice President, and Kirsten Strieck, shareholder and Director of Operations and Client Services at Joint Venture Strategic Advisors.  Welcome to the Playbook.

Kirsten:  Thank you.

Brian:  Thanks for having us Russ.

Russ:  So you’ve both sort of been in this space, this joint venture mostly for oil and gas companies, for a few years right?

Brian:  That’s correct.  I’ve been in the oil and gas industry working in the oil and gas industry for CPA firms and also within industry for over 30 years.  So lots of experience which is a very powerful tool that we need to perform the services that we do.

Russ:  And I guess they’ve probably changed over the years how you do your joint venture consulting and auditing.

Brian:  Well obviously as you know technology over the last three decades has advanced the energy industry greatly in not only discovering oil and gas, but also in collaborating and sharing data.  And one of the secrets to providing a very efficient joint venture audit is also having access to that data.  So large cubes of data are the benchmark of information that we use to perform a lot of data analytics that help us focus in on core areas of the audit or operations that may have significant red flags and we can focus on those and not spend as much time on those areas that aren’t as important.

Russ:  Wow, so how do you do that?

Kirsten:  Well one of the areas that we use is a remote desktop server.  It allows us to A, audit wherever we are in the world and receive data from our clients anywhere.  We’re also using secure portals to receive this information from our clients so volumes of data come through the internet daily.

Russ:  I guess that also kind of lowers the expense completely doesn’t it if you’re not having to travel everywhere, right?

Kirsten:  That’s exactly right.

Russ:  Do you ever actually advise joint ventures without ever going there?

Kirsten:  Yes we do and it’s very beneficial to both our client and the operators.

Russ:  Wow, very interesting.

Brian:  It also helps too for the fact that we have two office locations so we can have multiple teams jointly working on a similar project together, sharing and collaborating information.

Russ:  And the two office locations Houston and Calgary, is that right?

Brian:  Correct.

Kirsten:  That’s correct.

Russ:  That’s really cool.  Well thanks a lot for bringing us up to date on Joint Ventures.

Brian:  Yep, thank you.

Kirsten:  Thank you.

Russ:  You bet.  For more information about JVSA visit JVSA.com.  This has been another Thought Leader production brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook.  Tune in next week for another chapter.