Nonprofits Should Have a Data Integration Strategy

4 Steps to Approaching Data Integration Strategically

For almost 20 years, we’ve been helping nonprofit organizations integrate data among their operating systems.  We’ve worked on everything from fundraising to finance to friends-asking-friends.  We’ve enjoyed interacting with teams who work cohesively and efficiently toward a common goal, with great success waiting for them at the end of the project.  But more often, we’ve witnessed our nonprofit clients’ teams struggle with every aspect of incorporating integration into their business processes.  They start out with high hopes and best intentions, but end up feeling defeated. When this happens, it’s not from a lack of motivation or effort — it’s because they didn’t approach integration with a clear, collective strategy.

For nonprofit organizations, integrating disparate data systems, often across departments, is a major change from the status quo.  It affects not only the quality of data in each system, but also task efficiency, employee satisfaction, and ultimately your constituents’ opinions of your organization.

Think about how you approach other projects with such far-reaching effects.  Do you start a new community outreach program without planning and buy-in from others?  Do you launch a new website that you created in isolation, and hope everyone is okay with the outcome?  Probably not.  Taking a strategic approach to data integration is an equally critical component of organization-wide success.  It’s never too early or too late to start this conversation with your team – the time is now.

In this multi-part series, we’ll cover the elements that are vital for successful data integration, including downloadable resources for discussing these concepts with your colleagues:

1.   The right team

Who should be included at each stage of a data integration project, and understanding everyone’s role along the way

2.   Well-defined goals

Establishing the relationship between technical goals and organizational goals, and how approaching data integration strategically drives decisions

3.   Thoughtful timeline

Creating a realistic project timeline and reacting to unexpected changes

4.   Technology

Working through the challenges of inherent differences between data systems and planning for long-term impacts of data integration

As we move through the series, you’ll be able to use the links above to get to each individual article. And, to receive links to our blogs in your inbox, sign up for our e-newsletter using the pop-up window.

In the meantime, check out some of our other blog posts centered around data integration and best practices.

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