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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Calhoun

Making the Shift Towards a Data-Driven Organizational Culture

In my last article, Increase Funding for Your Nonprofit with the Power of Data, I wrote about the increasing importance of data for non-profit organizations and how to utilize its power. One of the steps I mentioned was shifting your organizational culture to be more data-driven. Your organization cannot efficiently collect and analyze data if your team members are not all on board. This is why a change in your organizational culture is essential to producing and yielding the benefits of leveraging actionable data.

What is a data-driven organizational culture?

Organizational culture is different from your mission or values; it’s how you and your team members behave in your organization. It consists of everyone’s shared beliefs and provides the context for every action taken. Having a strong organizational culture is essential to thriving in unity and moving toward a shared goal. 

A data-driven organizational culture is in effect when an organization places emphasis on the necessity of data and each team member uses it to enhance their daily tasks. A barrier that many nonprofit organizations face is not having an organizational culture that supports their access to and utilization of their data.

Why a data-driven culture matters

Culture is arguably one of the most important things that determine an organization’s success. In the best organizational cultures, data lies at the center of all decision-making. According to a study conducted by Stanford Social Innovation Review, 75% of nonprofit organizations collect data, but only about 6% feel like they are using it effectively. It’s imperative that everyone in your organization understands the importance of data and knows how to correctly utilize it.

Currently, many nonprofit organizations primarily rely on success stories to demonstrate to donors and funders that they are achieving their mission and making a difference in the community. While these anecdotes are important, sufficient data is needed to back them up. Data that can prove your impact has the ability to give you a competitive advantage when looking for funding. 

A data-driven culture also has internal benefits. For instance, having clean data and an effective way to track it can increase productivity. Knowing exactly what metric to measure and having an effective tool to measure it, will help your team members tackle their workload in the most efficient way possible. Your organizational culture should encourage a systematic approach to collecting data for team members that will show how the organization is reaching its quantitative goals.    

How to make the shift

In order to make the shift towards a data-driven organizational culture, a few things are needed. For instance, the change has to come from the top and work its way down. It’s no longer enough for nonprofit leaders to rely on instinct; evidence-based leadership needs to be implemented. It’s important that they see data as a strategic asset and that they trickle that belief throughout the organization. Everyone on the leadership team and the board should be data champions, reinforcing the data-centric mindset for all employees in the organization, especially those who will be using it the most.

Next, it’s important to find a tool that will make the organizational shift as seamless as possible. Software platforms, like our imPowr solution, can help with merging your data from various sources so that you can get started with clean and de-duplicated data. From there, you can track essential data regarding your clients, team, organization, and community and create dashboards to demonstrate your successes. 

Organizational change won’t happen overnight. In fact, it will take months or maybe even years. The change will need to be reflected in every individual working at your organization, making sure that each person is a data champion. The shift may not be easy, but it will result in a more effective and efficient organization.

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