Beyond impact, what should donors tune in to when it comes to nonprofit data?

Kris Kewitsch | Executive Director, Charities Review Council | March 2024


Beyond impact, what should donors tune in to when it comes to nonprofit data?

Many donors are well-acquainted with the practice of inquiring about and reviewing a nonprofit’s data through annual reports, web content, and more.  

What are the trends – Is the organization serving more clients each year? Is the organization successfully reaching their target audience and/or branching into new communities? What are the outcomes – What changes are the outputs producing? What are clients achieving post-intervention?  

These data points paint a picture about a nonprofit’s impact and are important to examine.  

The Council encourages donors to also conduct another layer of examination when it comes to a nonprofit’s data – specifically, data management – when making charitable giving decisions. Ask yourself: 

Does the organization show commitment to data privacy and rights for donors? Look for statements on donation forms, websites, and other highly visible places that explain what the nonprofit does with donor information and why. Similar to a patient’s bill of rights, some organizations, including the Council, adhere to the Donor Bill of Rights developed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and other partners. These rights include assurance your information as a donor will be handled respectfully and aligned to privacy/confidentiality laws.  

Does the organization ensure that donor data is handled responsibly and securely? Consider asking the nonprofit about its policies and practices on data retention and data access. An organizational representative should be able to clearly articulate how your information is stored, how long your information is kept, and how accessible your information is based on their role-determined data permissions.

If this is a topic of interest for you and you are not certain where to begin, the Fundraising section of the Council’s Accountability Standards® is a great place to start formulating your expectations and screening questions for the nonprofits to whom you generously give. 

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