For nonprofits, effective database management software (DBMS) is vital to securing data, gaining valuable insights and opportunities, and making a greater overall impact.

The day-to-day operations of most nonprofit agencies include basic tasks such as maintaining inventories and keeping track of employee records and accounting logs. The real challenge, however, involves obtaining actionable information from the valuable data the nonprofit holds about clients, donors, and volunteers.

To discover how more effective database management software can help nonprofits in this regard, have a read through this post for a more detailed evaluation.

Why effective database management software (DBMS) is vital to nonprofits

How nonprofits utilize database management software (DBMS) will ultimately determine how effective overall the organization operates. The same is true with for-profit ventures. Without a system to maintain accurate and complete records, organizations simply cannot run efficiently.

It takes more than basic recordkeeping, however. This is especially so if the agency is looking to expand or is seeking new opportunities through the data they collect. To make a greater impact, the organization needs a comprehensive data-management plan, and they need one that meets their own specific needs.

Screen grab from Open Source Program Evaluation Software for Nonprofit data management

View of ABCD Program Management Dashboard

For many small nonprofits and those in their growth stage, adopting a new data-management system might be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are many tools and techniques available to assist nonprofits in making the most of their data assets even with limited resources. Let’s look closer now, to how effective database management software can benefit nonprofits.

4 key benefits to effective nonprofit database management software

For nonprofits to succeed, they need to establish strong relationships with their contributors, create engaging campaigns for the public, and ultimately encourage donations. A complete database management system bridges all these gaps: enabling personalized interactions to establish close ties with supporters, creating new opportunities for community engagement, and amplifying marketing campaigns to drive more contributions and additional support.

Securing sensitive data in accordance with regulations

The first benefit to nonprofits deploying database management software is for security. Data assets, especially in today’s world, must be managed with the same awareness and caution as financial assets and human resources. This was expanded on by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, who asserts nonprofits are transforming into institutions to devote and secure digital and analog resources for greater public benefit.

Effectively securing sensitive data is complicated, however. This is due to the constantly evolving labyrinth of data security regulations around the world. Navigating this regulatory landscape can be not only a challenge but more so out-of-reach for the average nonprofit. Any client data relating to children, health, finances and legal affairs must be extremely secure as they are subject to regulatory scrutiny.

With the risk of losing sensitive data in a security breach, nonprofits often collect only the information they require to operate. They also tend to delete data when it is no longer necessary to store. When dealing with data that is indefinitely on an internal system, however, this is when the need arises to encrypt and strictly control access to the database for those both inside and outside of the organization. This entails training not only for managers and staff but also for any volunteers, in order to ensure all sensitive data input into the DBMS is adequately secure.

Gaining valuable insights and new opportunities

a nonprofit team meeting discussing database options

Another valuable benefit to DBMS technology for nonprofits is the ability to organize and dissect information vital for effective engagement with donors, volunteers, and clientele. The more the agency knows about these groups, the more capable they are of efficiently addressing them. Tools for data analysis and tracking specifically help in regards to building fundraising and outreach campaigns for more potential donors, and they play a crucial role in inspiring these donors to increase their contributions.

With a customer relationship management system (CRM), the benefits to insights and opportunities extend even further. A CRM allows nonprofits to enrich their interactions with donors, clients, and volunteers through tracking which type of engagement performs best. The CRM tracks data on an individual-by-individual basis, indicating for example when clients open emails or they engage with specific links, and they also help monitor which marketing campaigns realized the most success.

Attaining indicators for the future

The next benefit to effective database management software for nonprofits is in strategic planning for both short-term and long-term goals. It’s easy to create the plan, however following it is often not so simple. This is when technology proves a valuable asset for connecting primary and secondary objectives, as well as for monitoring progress over longer periods of time. Before choosing the right DBMS, however, the nonprofit first needs to conduct a SWOT analysis which defines the agency’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

When the nonprofit has an overview of its current status, it can begin long-term planning while holding in mind that the plan is subject to change if / when conditions shift. Then, with the long-term in sight, a DBMS planning tool can help the nonprofit create an effective strategy to meet short-term objectives while also staying true to the long-term plan. Planning software can also be useful for setting reminders to discuss specific objectives in every meeting.

Making an overall greater impact

Finally, the most important benefit to nonprofits using an effective database management system is the growing importance on “outcomes” rather than “outputs”. Today’s nonprofits are being pressured more and more in this regard, and they need ways to better determine the outcome of their efforts in the communities they aim to assist. This requires consistent monitoring and reporting of progress, and ensuring that all progress is in line with the organization’s long-term goals.

The results of any outcome measurements also require communication both within and outside of the organization, as this helps prove the agency is fulfilling their commitment to donors and to clients. Thankfully, DBMS technology is valuable here, providing resource management tools that can help struggling non-profit organizations to better leverage existing assets and exercise financial discipline. This is one way to not only attract more resources and talent but also to build on an organization’s sustainability.

ABCD (A Better Community Database)

screenshot of a pie graph taken from a datatbase management software for nonprofits

At ABCD, we develop open-source program evaluation software for nonprofit data management. We aim to serve any NPO or collaborative interested in making better use of the data they collect, no matter the size, stage or budget of the operation.

We know that for nonprofits and other social good organizations, the ability to easily and accurately track, test, evaluate, and report on initiatives in real-time is critical to evaluating program effectiveness and achieving sustainability. It’s also important that organizations can be confident all sensitive data is secure, in compliance with legal requirements, and in line with the organization’s data practices and policies.

The organizations ABCD is most capable of assisting are those who run programs or any collaborative that supports an organization with programs. ABCD software is thus highly customizable to meet a wide range of nonprofit needs, and all data lives on a server designated by you to ensure security and regulatory compliance. If you would like to learn more about if ABCD can meet the needs of your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us today and schedule a free consultation to discuss database management.