Are charities struggling with data?

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As the computer age develops and increasingly sophisticated mobile devices make it easier for consumers to get online while out and about, the amount of consumer data available to businesses has grown.

However, not all firms are well-placed to create actionable insights from this glut of information, particularly if they lack the talent or technology to do so.

According to a new report from Blackbaud and nfpSynergy, nearly 57 per cent of UK not-for-profits are struggling to release the inherent potential within big data.

Azadi Sheridan, Blackbaud Europe's product manager, admitted that the sheer amount of information gathered through modern fundraising activities can be difficult to manage.

"Data can be invaluable for fundraising and marketing, but not-for-profits must be able to analyse that data to get the maximum value from it. Not utilising social media data is a major missed opportunity to better understand supporters," he added.

Only 30 per cent of respondents felt they were doing a good job when it comes to combining data and fundraising, with 70 per cent recognising that there is untapped potential in this area.

Almost half of not-for-profit companies were capable of integrating digital data into their CRM systems, making them less effective – just 15 per cent were able to utilise their social media in this way.

The charities responding seemed to agree that the inability to utilise their data is having an impact on their engagement with potential fund-givers and supporters, highlighting the need for not-for-profits to develop expertise in this area.

Jo Graham, nfpSynergy's research director, pointed out that technology is clearly important but warned that resources remain a major issue for charities.

"Data is key to modern fundraising and the findings in the Data Driven Fundraising report suggest that not-for-profits are aware of this but need help unlocking the true potential of that data," she added.