Big Data and Small Nonprofits

By: Margo Bailey, PhD

It’s easy for small nonprofits to dismiss conversations about Big Data “a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.” Sometimes it is too difficult to efficiently manage a single EXCEL spreadsheet, let alone multiple databases.

Successful nonprofits, regardless of their size, understand that it is important to manage, mine, and use data for organization and program decision making.  There are important lessons learned about data management, program implementation, and impact assessment for nonprofit leaders in the current discussions on Big Data. The lessons can help you take small steps to improve your capacity for data collection, outcome measurement, evaluation and data-driven decision making.

 

Here are a few blog resources to get you started:

Nonprofits: Master “Medium Data” Before Tackling Big Data

Jacob Harold, GuideStar

 

Big Data for Little Nonprofits

Steve Boland, Nonprofit Quarterly

 

Big Data Without Defining Success First Is A Big Mistake

Beth Kanter, Beth’s Blog

 

The Hidden Biases in Big Data

Kate Crawford, Microsoft Research

 

What are your thoughts on Big Data in small nonprofit organizations?

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