Using Big Data in Your Nonprofit Organization

Big Data in Your Nonprofit

Big data has been a buzzword that’s been bouncing around for a few years in every industry. What exactly does ‘big data’ mean? Well, Wikipedia defines big data as “the term for 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.” At a loss for how that pertains to your nonprofit organization? Our friend, Sally Boucher, Director of Research, from WealthEngine tackled this subject in a recent blog post and we wanted to share her post with you.

What is Big Data?

To Sally, Big Data is data from multiple sources that needs to be combined in ways to make it informative and actionable. By combining data from disparate sets, patterns and insights emerge, and this actually creates more data!
More and bigger data sets are also being generated because information is being collected from social media, smart phones and other mobile devices, cameras, satellites, remote sensors and other newly emerging technologies.

What does Big Data mean to the marketer or fundraiser?

To the marketer, the ability to see each consumer or prospect in a 360-degree view, and to personalize messages and interactions with that individual to create the ultimate purchasing or donating experience. Making sure that our prospects have the best experience they can have with our organization, will improve results.
Knowing your prospects, donors and customers likes and dislikes, buying and donating behaviors, relationships with others in your universe, and importantly, their wealth and buying or investing power, allows you the ability to make your messages truly relevant on an almost individual basis.

How can I harness the power of Big Data?

Big data is all well and good, but given the sheer volume, and the barriers to accessing and processing, how can a marketing, or fundraising, professional reap the benefits? To leverage Big Data, the marketer or fundraiser must:

  • Capture
  • Curate
  • Transform
  • Normalize
  • Parse
  • Combine
  • Analyze
  • Report
  • Visualize

These actions and activities would require more resources than most small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits have at hand. So how can the small shop, or the mid-sized business, leverage Big Data without investing inordinate resources on data collection, curation and analysis?
To learn more about big data and learn tips from Sally about selecting the right big data partner, see her full post on using big data at WealthEngine.


The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.

One comment

  1. This is a great intro to the full blog from Sally – well worth the click-through above to get more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *