Five Critical Ideas Raised by Nonprofit Leaders at Panel Discussion on Advanced Leadership

Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 2018 – A distinguished panel of Philadelphia nonprofit leaders discussed the challenges they face in using data intelligence to make better-informed decisions that improve their impact and increase their sustainability at an event hosted by ITData at The Union League of Philadelphia.

Panel members were Vik Dewan, President & CEO, Philadelphia Zoo; Dawn Holden-Wood, CEO, Turning Points for Children; and Sara McCullough, VP of Impact, United Way Philadelphia & Southern NJ. More than 130 nonprofit leaders listened and asked questions during the event, led by moderator Richard Binswanger.

5 Critical Ideas Were Raised:

  1. Nonprofit organizations aspire to not only deliver services but also be catalysts for change in their communities, yet they realize achieving that larger goal will require building coalitions.
  2. Leaders in nonprofit organizations are inundated with data, but challenged to derive meaningful, actionable insights that result in improved outcomes.
  3. Rather than relying on the same funders year after year, nonprofits need to figure out how to tap previously untapped resources by addressing the factors that make Philadelphia 43rd among the 50 largest US cities in donor contributions, and the reasons that billions in Donor Advised Funds are not being deployed.
  4. To attract a new generation of donors focused on demonstrable outcomes, nonprofit organizational culture must change to embrace the risk inherent in launching new programs that require a multi-year donor commitment, while eliminating programs that no longer work.
  5. With Federal and State government dollars declining, nonprofits need to involve the business community in addressing Philadelphia’s 25% poverty rate, the highest among the 10 most populous US cities.

ITData has been a trusted technology advisor and service provider to Philadelphia area clients for over 20 years. The firm delivers high value, cost-effective services with a local face. ITData invests time in the face-to-face interactions that spark innovation and creative solutions.

Nonprofit Departmental Systems Sharing

CommunicationHave you thought about whether your departmental systems are sharing well enough at your nonprofit?

What would you do if the various departments in your organization failed to communicate with one another? No matter how well a single department handles its own business functions, the organization is guaranteed to run into serious challenges if information isn’t effectively exchanged, especially for leadership who focus on “big picture” matters. Only when an organization is well-connected, can questions like the following be tackled:

  • How does the organization demonstrate its values, social return, and success?
  • How does the CEO, or the Executive Director, make proper financial, staffing, or other critical decisions without seeing how all the pieces fit together?
  • How does the board accomplish its oversight role without utilizing the relationships that run through and across organizational territories?
  • No good leader would tolerate such dysfunctional siloes in their organization, yet, many accept this lack of communication and integration in their departmental technology systems. Why?
  • We found that no good solutions exist in the market that help companies create the bridges and tunnels that join the departmental systems together.

The 2018 Software Advice issue reviewed 145 NonProfit Applications which placed all of them into the following 8 Categories:

  1. Accounting
  2. Fundraising & Donor Management
  3. Membership Management
  4. Volunteer Management
  5. Marketing & Outreach
  6. CRM
  7. Event Planning
  8. Grant Management

None of these categories tie these various systems together in a way that successfully inform decision making to help a non-profit achieve its mission and goals.Yet, increasingly, non-profits are seeing the need to tie these categories to various systems. The Non Profit Times (1/17) identified “Integration and the free flow of information and data between software solutions” as an important and crucial trend going forward. However, this is just a first step. The real utility comes when business intelligence is overlaid on to this, causing leadership to have a much stronger visibility into the things it deems important.So to fill the need, we are developing a solution that fits the following criterion:

    1. It’s inexpensive.
    2. It’s easy to use.
    3. It adapts and scales to the organization.
    4. It creates direct ties to the mission.
    5. It highlights areas deemed most important by the organization regardless of whether there are clear metrics yet created for these areas.
    6. It provides insight into the key questions, both expansive and contractive, that the organization wants to ask.

Are you getting excited? Even if you are just curious, we hope you will get in touch. We can give you a few good thoughts on how to move forward.

Bruce Golboro
COO, ITDATA, Inc.

 

 

Who Is In The Driver’s Seat?

A Story About Understanding Our Dataimages

Once upon a time there was a business. It was a good business, but for many reasons it was getting harder to predict how well or poorly they were doing based on the various measures they were accustomed to using. The market place was changing and so were the revenue sources. Little by little they were losing touch with what the real risks or opportunities were ahead.

This particular business had a board of directors and they were starting to ask different questions. They had an executive team who wanted to not only answer those questions, but they had their own questions that sounded different. They had staff, and they had customers, and other constituent groups with various interests. Why was this becoming such an issue? It never was before.

Regardless of why they were in this predicament, they were in it. They needed to pull together all of this information from many different places and make sense of it. “Well that’s easy”, they thought, “We’ll just ask our IT folks”. Now all of a sudden the IT people were asking questions. Geeze Louise, when was the merry go round ever going to end?

So they hired IT consultants. The questions kept coming, but they thought “hey the consultants at least will help us get through this maze, right”. Well, not exactly. After many hours, days, and months, the questions kept coming and the merry go round continued. They were exhausted.

Until one day they decided to take a different approach. Maybe chasing down all of this information was not the place to start. Maybe they needed to make better sense of the questions first. What were the right questions? What real problems was all this information going to solve?

Well, it was not easy, but they did it. They managed to find the right set of questions that aligned with their strategies – the questions that could help to solve the major issues. So, they went back to the drawing board with these questions in mind and somehow it started to come together. They were getting information to the right people, ahead of the curves, and making real time adjustments to their business.

The moral of the story, “ask the right questions and you might find the answers”. “Ask the wrong questions and enjoy the merry go round.

Peter Blau
CEO, ITData, Inc.