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Disparate Data Can Kill Your Nonprofits Mission!

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

Disparate Data Challenges in Nonprofits


The number one reason why we are called into nonprofits today is to help find a solution to improve how their team works better together. In other words, they need a 360 degree view of their member, donor, and customer which is shared by everyone in the organization. In this article, we explore the impact of disparate data and discuss ways to help.

What is Disparate Data Syndrome?

DDS stands for Disparate Data Syndrome. It is an acronym for a serious ailment faced by many non-profit associations.

DDS is a very common condition whereby your association is overwhelmed by the use of multiple databases, spreadsheets, & disparate data sources. Due to the use of Disparate Data sources your organization is likely wasting time, money, and impacting your member retention.

DDS is not an overnight ailment; rather it’s a gradual and progressive acquisition of various tool sets in order to stop the bleeding in your organization. The various tools are typically added by well-intended purposes and uses over time but ultimately cause of a very frustrating situation for staff, executives, boards and ultimately your members.

Common Symptoms of Disparate Data Syndrome:

  1. Your association has an excel spreadsheet for reporting.

  2. You have an email marketing system which is not connected to our database or web site.

  3. You are constantly rekeying data from your General Ledger back/forth between our membership system.

  4. Your website has a separate database from our membership or donor system.

  5. You have a separate event management system.

  6. Your web content management system is a third party solution.

  7. Your existing database does not have an open API (Application programming interface).

  8. Many departments have shadow IT solutions to address their specific use cases.

Having disparate data is by far the number one reason why associations contact SmartThoughts today.

We believe it's because Association Executives now understand the impact a non-integrated platform has on all stakeholders in the association (staff, executives, board members, membership, and volunteers).

No Mas Mi amigos, There Is a Better Way!

Just a decade ago, most small nonprofit associations were simply looking for a way to put up a website. The times have changed very quickly.

Today, due to the common availability of SaaS (Software As A Service) Cloud technology, solutions are less expensive and this once elusive organizational goal of implementing one platform is now in the reach of even the smallest nonprofits today. To reiterate, even small associations can find a solution to help eliminate Disparate Data Syndrome!

Options Today to Solve The Problem

In fact, it’s not even a matter of is there a solution, but rather which platform and or approach is best suited for your particular organization.

SmartThoughts is well qualified to help in your efforts to eliminate DDS, and we can help find the right tool (s) through our software selection services. For most organizations, the important task of finding the right fit can be a confusing process to weed through the list of software options.

There is no-doubt many association technologies on the market today. We are skilled at evaluating business requirements and formulating the proper path to take to ensure you avoid the pitfalls of disparate data in your organization.

Do You Need A Customer Data Platform?

Perhaps, you simply need a customer data platform to connect the dots.

According to experts, a CDP (Customer Data Platform) differs from customer relationship databases, data management platforms or most marketing platforms because it was designed specifically as a central location for customer data — member or donor profiles, personal identifiers, website visits, mobile app sessions, email responses, chat transcripts, learning management data, event management, customer service interactions, social media comments, purchase orders and so on — and was intended specifically for the unification of data.

Some of the key benefits of a CDP are the following:

  • Replace manual reporting with automated updates

  • Platform agnostic integrations with association solutions

  • Intuitive user interface for the entire organization (no data scientists needed!)

  • Free up staff time to focus on other programs​

Please don't procrastinate and suffer any longer with this ailment. Your non-profit does not have to delay in finding a cure for disparate data in your association any longer.

If you would like to learn more, please contact us for help with software selection services. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.


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