Exploring Data Use in Nonprofit Organizations
Evaluation and Program Planning
Volume 97, April 2023, 102197
Organizations around the world have increasingly employed data for a variety of purposes, and nonprofit organizations are no exception. Exploring Data Use in Nonprofit Organizations, authored by Robert L. Fischer and Duncan J. Mayer, PhD candidate at the Mandel School, reviews the use of data in nonprofit organizations, including the types of data collected and accessed, the motivations for data capture, and the barriers to systematic use of data. The literature shows that nonprofit organizations capture a variety of data, including public and financial data, performance measures, program evaluation data, and volunteer information. Organizations use these with diverse motivations such as program or organizational improvement, marketing, and accountability. Prominent barriers faced by organizations include challenges in identifying meaningful information, lack of technical ability, inability to prioritize data work, as well as external influences.
The article highlights the challenges in synthesizing the available literature, with a high degree of fragmentation, including research from distinct intellectual traditions resulting in many disconnected constructs, measurements, and theories. Finally, the paper discusses challenges in the study of nonprofit data use and strives to provide guidance for future inquiry.