There’s Some Good in Data Collection, too

The news cycles are constantly populated with stories about the negative impacts of data collection. But there’s some good in there, too.

For every kind of organization, large and small, established and startup, learning from the feedback of its target audience is critical to the organization’s ability to have an impact. It implies that the organization is making an effort to better understand those it’s trying to serve and that it’s willing to reconsider services and products to make them more effective.

Where you come in
That process assumes an added weight for nonprofits, which are, in many cases, offering programs that aim to improve the quality of life and save lives. As a donor, it’s completely within your rights to ask a nonprofit about whether it’s engaging in such interactions and what it’s getting out of them. They’re indicators that a charity’s healthy and innovative.

That curiosity should also extend to you, the donor. A charity that’s willing to ask for feedback from its target audience and donors is showing self-awareness. It’s acknowledging that it’s too close to the programs it manages to see their flaws or areas where they can be improved to be made even more effective.

So, while it may feel like an inconvenience, or even an invasion of privacy, to be asked about the topics covered in a charity’s blog, try to recognize that you’re both working toward the same mission, and that entails frequently reassessing every component of the enterprise, even the seemingly mundane parts, like the blog posts.

What it looks like
How exactly that feedback is solicited can vary. Some employ a survey asking about their experiences and outcomes. Some may host focus groups, which are particularly valuable for exposing the nuances of how participants are engaging with the programs.

Those with a meaningful digital presence will also likely tap their website analytics, which will help them see if users are getting to the appropriate pages on the site. And, once they’re there, if they’re engaging with the content in the intended ways or leaving the site without making use of the provided resources.

Some may even use social media polls, if they’ve made inroads on those platforms. Whether it’s face-to-face or online, it’s important for a nonprofit to connect with its audience and donors in the same ways in which they connect with the organization.

For your part, as a donor, don’t be shy about asking a charity about how it’s collecting feedback and what it’s doing with that information. And should your turn come up, know that the organization’s not trying to burrow into your privacy. It’s only trying to be more effective.