Harnessing the Power of Big Data at Nonprofits (For Free)

Harnessing the Power of Big Data at Nonprofits (For Free)

The big data revolution is sweeping through the non-profit world with the same speed that it swept through the worlds of business and government.  Just as corporations use visualizations of information to improve their processes and find new efficiencies, groups as diverse as homeless shelters, Head Start providers, and international aid organizations now harness big data for the greater good.

Non-profits have always had quite a lot of information at their disposal.  For some, the data was collected in order to fulfill accountability requirements – usually the standard procedures of government granting agencies.  For others, data was used to create their value proposition with donors – the quantity of meals served, the number of lives touched, the percentage of students who went to college.

Yet for many non-profits, data was something to harvest rather than something to analyze.  The immediate cause of donor management was usually behind collection of data, leaving little time and few resources to ponder the meaning of that data.  Now there are tools, however, which allow non-profits to go beyond the often mandatory collection of data and towards the ability to analyze it.

Enter Tableau, a software tool which allows organizations of all sizes and types to visualize large quantities of data.  Tableau is already used by over 32,000 companies to sort through their data sets, identify patterns and outliers, and take appropriate action to improve business processes.  For many non-profits, the speed, effectiveness, and sheer power of the Tableau platform has long been out of reach.

Yet that has now changed.  Tableau announced last week that its charitable arm, the Tableau Foundation, would make the software available to certain non-profits free of charge.  The fine print is restricted only to the organizations which are eligible.  In order to receive the free software, non-profits must be registered as a 501(c)(3) organization or local equivalent in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Hong Kong; operate with an annual budget of $5 million or less; and not operate as a school, college, mutual organization, healthcare organization, or government agency.

This represents a remarkable opportunity for a significant number of non-profits to harness the power of big data for more than just reporting purposes.  Many non-profits have long desired the ability to find patterns in their work, create efficient operating models, or increase their reach.  Tableau will at last help them to do these things and more.

Perhaps the most exciting piece of this is the “and more” part.  There are quite a few obvious applications for Tableau software in the non-profit world.  Yet by giving away its product without any strings or restrictions on its use, Tableau has empowered non-profits to find new and exciting applications which are only obvious to its new users.  With the proper customizations and inputs, the sky’s the limit for those who are looking to bring the power of Tableau to the non-profit world.

What can your non-profit do with the power of Tableau’s big data platform on your side?  Let us help you find out.