When we think of data, we tend to think of all the ways we create, use, and store it within our organisations. Whether it’s finance, fundraising, or operations, data management forms an integral part of running a successful non-profit. However, effective data management is also key in supporting collaboration and partnership across the sector. Here, we explore some of the areas to consider when thinking about the part data plays in collaborative work.  

Data in policy

Analysis of good quality, anonymised data collected by multiple organisations in partnership can allow trends to be identified. These insights can play an important role in shaping policy and government decision-making, as well as the strategic approach of the organisations involved. For example, a partnership of charities providing debt advice could collate shared data illustrating the nature and volume of demand for their services, which could be used to inform government spending.  

Joint funding bids

Leveraging data is crucial for demonstrating impact when writing funding bids and applications; for an organisation to stand a good chance of success, they need to convince funders of the value of their work. Accurate, relevant, and well-presented data can demonstrate this, and is just as applicable for joint funding bids and partnerships as it is for individual bids.  

Better outcomes for service users

Many organisations work in partnership to provide linked services to their clients, either by signposting or direct referrals. If these organisations have an agreed data approach or protocol, they can ensure the service users’ journeys between services are as smooth as possible and reduce the risk of information either being shared inappropriately or service users slipping through the gaps.  

Third party suppliers and service providers

Many non-profit organisations work closely with third parties to deliver fundraising activities like telephone or direct mailing campaigns. If the flow of data between these organisations is disorganised or doesn’t follow format guidelines, this results in increased administrative work needed by staff. It’s in the best interest of all parties to ensure all data created, shared and stored is clean, accurate and well organised.  

How can a CRM help?

Historically, organisations in the non-profit sector have managed data in a variety of approaches, many of which relied heavily on manual processes and spreadsheets. Managing data in this way has inherent GDPR-related risks and makes it challenging to keep data accurate, up-to-date, and reliable. When implemented successfully, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can reduce the need to manually process data, validate data to weed out errors, and enable staff to quickly and easily locate the information they need within a single place.  

Although CRMs typically function internally and are not a collaborative tool in themselves, they can support organisations to carry out the above activities in a more streamlined way. Time saved on administrative burdens can be better spent working collaboratively and enable charities to tackle issues in a joined up and strategic manner.  

Successful implementation of the right CRM can also provide a host of benefits for fundraising, marketing, service delivery and more, boosting the impact of your organisation and helping you reach strategic goals. Read more about the key benefits a CRM can offer non-profits here.  

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