Data Analysis

By Cary Herman

Your organization completed the implementation of a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) or Grants Management System (GMS). You automated processes, integrated with third-party systems, and the system has stabilized. You’re enabled to capture and report on attributes that were previously buried in grant proposals or report narratives. With an enhanced availability of metadata, it’s time for introspection and data analysis to inform future organizational strategy.

Wait… What?!

Like with any good marketing strategy, sorting and filtering data allows you to tell the story you wish to tell. However, we aren’t marketing strategists, but rather philanthropists striving to generate as great an impact as possible. In addition, the sector continues to become more sophisticated and raise the bar on impact and results.

Organizations place high value on staff through training, development, and work-life balance. But an internal analysis of trends and operational metrics may disprove what you anecdotally considered as truth. Making an effort to simplify and streamline processes is important, but what about other aspects of the “Who, What, Where, When and How”? Maybe it’s time to take stock to re-allocate resources, enabling staff to increase compliance and quality controls while advancing as a trusted grantee advisor.  We ask questions such as:

  • What aspects of our Operations need improvement?
  • Is our workload evenly distributed?
  • How does the level of workload foster high-quality work? How does it develop “trusted advisor” or “implementer of choice” types of relationships?
  • Is there adequate governance for projects and grants?

Understanding Your Financial Position

As an organization with limited financial resources, you understand that cash is the lifeline for grantees. The ability to effectively analyze financial forecasts allows finance departments to be proactive in cash management activities. In order to better understand the financial position, we might ask:

  • What aspects of our finances need improvement?
  • How much of budget was utilized or committed, and what is still in the pipeline?
  • What does the forecast Cash Flow look like?
  • What is the YTD Payout?

Lastly, but perhaps more importantly, are the analyses of investments in projects combating the profusion of issues. You support grantees and projects that align with your organizational mission. Consequently, as the conversation about impact measurement continues, impact analysis gives pause to challenge issue and investment strategies.

  • What aspects of our Grantmaking need improvement?
  • Who are our strategic grantees and why?
  • What issues do we fund and how much do we invest?
  • How do our investments make an impact and what is the cost of each result?
  • What are beneficiaries made up of?
  • How do projects and grantee results align with our targeted goals?

In conclusion, a simplified way to gather data enables transparency and visibility. Progressing along the increasing demand of impact, organizations continue to challenge measurements. Hence, self-assessment of the available data helps to inform and drive strategic objectives and those of the sector.

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