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Data gathering and reporting tools

  • 1.  Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Jul 30, 2018 17:08
    Hi All,

    First time post - hopefully abiding by all community rules.

    In simple terms we are a public foundation which provides grants to local community partners. These community partners input values into Excel budgets annually and report back based on actual spend quarterly + provide variance explanations and report back on other data points periodically. We manually compile information ourselves in order to run various financial and operational analyses/ratios.

    Wondering if anyone has recommendations as to what type of technology we can use to streamline the process of gathering and reporting on the data. Looking for options that are cost effective and scalable - we are trying to avoid monster systems. We currently use Microsoft products.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Josh

    ------------------------------
    Joshua Grant
    Controller
    Toronto, ON
    ------------------------------
    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Jul 31, 2018 04:49
    Hi Joshua,

    In what method are your partners reporting the data back to you?

    Are you receiving via excel sheet? Simple Email message? Word/PDF?

    Are there certain types of required data that all partners provide?

    What is your current method of gathering the data manually? Weekly/daily data entry into an excel sheet? database?


    ------------------------------
    K. Howard Enterprise Solutions LLC
    Kyle O'Donnell
    President
    973-866-7366
    kyle@khesolutions.com
    www.ademero.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Jul 31, 2018 08:58
    Hi Kyle,

    Partners report back via e-mail quarterly, in Excel format using our standard template.

    All data is the same across all partners i.e. mapping to consolidate data should be fairly straightforward.

    Thanks!

    Josh

    ------------------------------
    Joshua Grant
    Controller
    Toronto, ON
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Jul 31, 2018 09:16
    There are some lighter-weight grant management systems that can help streamline and align both grantmaking and reporting processes.

    If you're looking for more flexibility at low cost, you can go from spreadsheets to a MySQL database, and put a BI/visualization tool over the top. MS PowerBI is free, robust, and familiar to power Excel users. Tableau is another industry-standard option. There are simpler options too, depending on your needs and the capabilities of your users.

    Be in touch directly if you'd like to learn more. We help foundations with grantmaking and grant-reporting tech all the time.

    ------------------------------
    Isaac Shalev
    http://www.sage70.com
    Stamford CT
    @Sage70
    isaac@sage70.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Aug 01, 2018 11:07
    Hi Joshua!

    If you're open to changing your workflow, one option is to have people enter their data into shared Google Sheets.  From the data entry side it's just as easy as Excel, and you can hook into the sheets using all kinds of visualization and reporting tools.

    Since it's a live API instead of emailing sheets, you'd have a real-time dashboard showing who's entered their data and who hasn't, and current numbers based on whatever data is available.

    We went this route with a healthcare nonprofit who used to email us Excel sheets to display data on their website. It's sooo much nicer now that they can just update all their data whenever they get it, and the site is always up-to-date.

    Happy to share specifics if you have questions.

    Nate.

    ------------------------------
    Nathan Gasser
    President & Executive Chef
    Report Kitchen
    :::
    A more delicious way to publish your
    project, policy, and research reports.
    :::
    http://reportkitchen.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 6.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Aug 02, 2018 08:44
    Thanks all for the great recommendations :) Lots to think about - I will be reviewing the resources / sites provided.

    Joshua

    ------------------------------
    Joshua Grant
    Controller
    Toronto, ON
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 7.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Aug 09, 2018 09:00
    Hi Josh,

    Sounds like you are swimming in spreadsheets during grant report season. Fortunately, you're not alone and there's a wealth of great technologies on the market capable of meeting your needs (SmartSimple, Salesforce foundationConnect, and YourCause are three of the top solutions TechBridge assessed recently for the Chick-fil-A Foundation).

    However, new technology alone will not make your pain go away. Here's an equation I often quote when nonprofits or foundations are looking at technology solutions:

    NEW TECHNOLOGY + OLD PROCESS = REALLY EXPENSIVE NEW TECHNOLOGY

    The 'Cadillac of grants management solutions' won't make your grants report headache go away if it's not accompanied by new processes and real change, both in your organization and for your grantees.

    I recommend working internally or with an external consultant to complete a process definition exercise and identify the greatest areas of opportunity for time savings through technology automation. Doing this exercise before you hop into searching for solutions will ultimately help you and your team make the best decision and get the full value out of whatever technology you choose.

    Cheers,

    ------------------------------
    Sean Williams
    Nonprofit Operations Consultant
    TechBridge
    Atlanta, GA
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 8.  RE: Data gathering and reporting tools

    Posted Aug 09, 2018 10:29
    Agree with Sean. From the document automation side of the business I ask clients to provide a list of unique document types: Contracts, Invoices, etc. The list of unique document types may grow to 25-50 or more but it gives them the ability to do the next step which is most important.

    For each document type:
    Where does it come from? (Generated internally, received from external source)
    What is the full lifecycle of the document from creation, throughout multi-stage approval process, to storage and retention policies?
    Who should have access to the document and who should not?

    Automation of document-based tasks only works well when you not only understand the way the process is supposed to work from a management aspect but also when you learn from the end-user standpoint. End users have a unique view on processes and are often left out of the decision process for new technology. They have their own shortcuts and methodologies to complete tasks which if not incorporated within new technology then the solution ultimately fails in the long term.


    ------------------------------
    K. Howard Enterprise Solutions LLC
    Kyle O'Donnell
    President
    973-866-7366
    kyle@khesolutions.com
    www.ademero.com
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline