How Big Data can be used in the Non-profit World


Big data has benefitted the business world in many ways by quantifying, observing and tracing performances. It is now time to use it for the non-profit sector, boost welfare measures and drive major social transitions.

The non-profit sector generally has three important areas to manage – the fund givers, board of directors and the management. Big data can be used to generate performance indicators to take an assessment of these areas. The most important thing here is to know which area to track and the specific programmes required to measure the skill of the workforce. In the non-profit sector, big data can measure the sources of revenue and the latest development in it. It can also track the number of people devoted to the board meetings, money spent in each program and also the maintenance costs in comparison to the money spent in welfare measures.

How to use

Non-profit organisations face the challenge to demonstrate the rate of their success and garner public support. Their success is however measured by the effective results that they produce and big data come handy in producing analytics of their success. Once the data is collected the next step is to analyse it scientifically and harvest the results to further their objectives. It is thus also important to learn and apply the techniques and analysis of big data usage within the organisation to use it in a meaningful way. Therefore, it is important to eliminate old and irrelevant data and use only the most recent data. It is the fresh data that can give the accurate analytics.

Further, the donors would like to know about the bearing of their contributions. Big data can come up with quantifiable numbers to display the changes and the effects that the organisation has been able to produce. It can also help in generating personal success stories along with statistics, in the process boosting donor assurance.

It is thus important to identify the crucial questions and the important decisions to be made that can benefit from big data. This can be pulled from many sources including the organisation’s own. In case the exact data is not available, near proximities may also be used to arrive at a prediction or the sought-after data must be gathered over a period of time.

The organisation must also be clear on the analysis that needs to be done and the insights that they desire. To arrive at this, it is important to use the appropriate technology and have expert assistance to run the analytics. However, with every big data use it is important that the privacy clauses are taken care of.

Once the findings are generated it is essential to share and implement them in the organisation and find scopes for application of the trends that it predicts.


Big data will help non-profit organisations take better decisions and maintain their resources more effectively and maximise their community contribution.

  • It can give an insight into the patterns on how the beneficiaries are taking benefits from their programmes and services. It can be helpful in further allocation of resources to specific beneficiaries in specific locations and according to their specific needs, which is only possible by analytics produced through big data.
  • Big data can also provide lead to non-profit organisations regarding the locations that have been overlooked or that received minimal attention. It will lead them to locations that need prompt and additional attention.
  • In case of crises and calamities, big data can be used to locate and identify the population that is in need of help and attention.
  • Big data also allows organisations engaged in similar activities to connect with each other and share their work. They can also share the data they have gathered, analysis made and the success of the implemented plan thereafter. Thus, there can be a better coordination to serve a larger section in lesser time and without any waste of resources.

Most of these data, however, come from government or state sources. But different sectors are today making use of multiple sources like social media interfaces, consumer interactions and GPS data to support their programmes and enhance their reach. The information that big data brings along can help in making significant differences by non-profit organisations.

As non-profits make use of the digital technology, there is always an apprehension about the clash of individual freedom and the organisational interests. The key here is to maintain a delicate balance and use the services of big data without compromising personal privacy. With this point in mind, application of big data in the operations of non-profit organisations can steer them towards better and effective social returns.

To know more about big data and its application in the non-profit sector, write to

Author : Letterbug Date : 04 May 2016