Ten years ago, most nonprofits used their data primarily for annual reports or to produce impact metrics for grants. Today, nonprofits are using their data to inform daily decisions about operations, donor engagement, impact strategies and more. The importance of data has made itself clear to the nonprofit sector, and we would argue that having access to data is now critical for a nonprofit to grow and thrive.
But what does it really mean to “have access to data?” For many years, nonprofit software came with reporting suites that contained a bunch of pre-built reports. You could run Report A that contained some information or Report B that contained other information. However, you could not easily create your own reports, with the fields you wanted and the format you desired.
While pre-built reports will always have a role for repetitive situations, such as monthly or quarterly status reports, nonprofits are increasingly demanding more. Nonprofits have evolved to want user-friendly tools that allow their users to create reports independently – without having to ask IT for help.
The idea of creating unique reports “as-needed” is often referred to as “ad hoc” reporting – which is Latin for “as the occasion requires.” The primary goal of Ad-hoc reporting is to empower end-user independence so they can ask their own questions about their data, without needing IT to create numerous reports that serve different purposes.
Ad-hoc reports can be as simple as a single page data table or as dynamic as cross-tab report with drill-down visualizations and multiple filters. Increasingly, nonprofits are creating their own dashboards to monitor activity in real-time and inform resource allocation.
Over the past several years, GroundWork group has transitioned to a very robust ad-hoc reporting solution that makes our clients’ data much more accessible. They are able to analyze more data, more quickly and in real-time – all without incurring the delay or cost of getting an IT person’s help. They can manipulate their data, create unique reports with whatever fields they desire, and the result can be turned into a chart in a matter of seconds.
If your organization struggles with outdated or cumbersome reporting tools, let us see if we can help.