Data admin takes on average 1 day a week of a charity's time. Through hours of conversations with charity professionals last summer, we learnt about some of the most common processes and activities that can accentuate problems with data.
Here are our top tips on how to improve your data processes, reducing the time you need to spend on data admin.
Automate Data Entry: Automating data entry from different sources can reduce manual input and minimise the chance of errors. We heard charity workers spend on average one day a week on data admin. For some, simply downloading and importing spreadsheets is a key part of this. You can use tools that integrate with your data sources, such as Zapier or IFTTT, to automate these processes. This approach will require some technical know-how but not full-blown coding experience. You’ll also still need to de-duplicate and clean the data. "Our biggest challenge is the synching between ourselves and accounts with our systems, that takes a lot of work, because they work traditionally with excel and sage and we have to reccy it all up."
Use a CRM: Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform can help centralise data and streamline data admin tasks. With a CRM, you can import and manage data from different sources, avoid duplicates, and access all data in one place. Most charities will already have a CRM in place, but their relationship with it may be strenuous, with lots of charities feeling their CRM isn’t doing what it should, or being left with a heritage CRM that's in desperate need of updating. Some charities may hold off from implementing a CRM until they are more mature, but this can lead to even more work in the long term as the data captured to date will need collating, cleaning and refining. It's important to know what you want your CRM to do before you implement one. Ensure it does all you need it to, switching can be incredibly time-consuming. “Changing a CRM system is a crazy thing to do, so it will be avoided until it can't be anymore, so this is why it comes to a point where everything is so inefficient and so complicated that it's quite difficult to untangle.”
Implement Data Quality Controls: Take a look at your data management processes and ensure you have a strong data strategy in place including data quality controls. By implementing regular data cleaning, verification, and standardisation procedures, you’ll ensure data accuracy and consistency. This has a huge impact on staff confidence and the adoption of data. Many charity workers say a lack of confidence in their data holds them back from engaging with donors and ultimately affects their success. "When it comes to data hygiene and duplication, it's only getting worse. That then has implications for the confidence in the data across the organisation. It impacts cost and missed opportunities. We've got duplicates on the system, or we're sending it to the wrong people and there's a backlog."
Train Staff on Data Management: Whilst data is now embedded in everything we do and is key to good decision-making, its success relies heavily on how it’s handled. Training staff on best practices for data management, including data entry, data storage, and data security, can ensure consistency and reduce risks. It also helps build confidence in those using it. Lack of training is often voiced as a reason for not utilising data effectively. "Without a clear data strategy, most of the CRM policies and procedures are built in a very organic way. That leads to duplication, it leads to people putting in different information in different ways. "
CharityBI can help with all of the above. If you’re handling spreadsheets and manually importing data, CharityBI will automatically import spreadsheets and de-duplicate and clean your data. For those who are without or feel disheartened by their CRM, CharityBI can provide many of the benefits of a CRM, off the shelf and ready for you to use in no time. It also helps to create and maintain a high level of quality control. By receiving automatic updates from each of the platforms you use, CharityBI ensures your data is accurate, cleaned and standardised to your requirements. Designed with and for the charity sector, making sure it’s as accessible and universally beneficial as possible has been at the core of CharityBI’s evolution. This includes ensuring that it’s easy for anyone to use without the need for consultants or training. However, we’ll be there to give you the best head start with CharityBI and ensure you're getting the most out of your data.
Find out how CharityBI reduces data admin time by up to 1 day a week ↙