Nonprofits and Data

last person joined: 8 days ago 

This group is for those interested in learning and sharing about all things data-related for nonprofits. The Nonprofits and Data group is for people using data to serve a mission, either directly or by improving nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. That includes everything from collecting data and managing databases to analytics, data visualization and data mining. Here are some examples of topics we discuss: using data to improve organizational effectiveness, measuring impact, using data for storytelling, tools for data management and analysis, figuring out the “right” data to collect, and learning skills to help us use data better.

Data Analysis Tools?

  • 1.  Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 10, 2018 12:00
    Hello! Newbie to the group :) I tried searching this in the archives but I think I'm not using the right search terms. We are looking for a tool that will help us store survey data and analyze it. We use Salesforce but not sure if it's the right tool to store data from long surveys that we send out to the same group (alumni) every year. We used Survey Monkey to send the survey and we can do some basic reporting within survey monkey, but looking for something more sophisticated that will allow us to compare data year over year.


    Aparna Kothary
    Primary Contact
    Global Citizen Year
    Oakland, CA

  • 2.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 10, 2018 12:08
    Hello and welcome Aparna,
    Choice of tools comes down to the data you're looking to track. MailChimp provides basic email campaign data (sends, bounces, opens, click-throughs) but what else are you looking for?

    Gregg Banse
    Director of Marketing & Business Development
    Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
    Vergennes, Vermont

  • 3.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 10, 2018 12:10
    We are looking for more robust data analysis - trends in the data, being able to slice the data using different filters, being able to look at year over year comparisons. The survey data has both quantitative and qualitative questions

    Aparna Kothary
    Primary Contact
    Global Citizen Year
    Oakland, CA

  • 4.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 10, 2018 17:56
    Something like Tableau would allow you to do the types of analysis you mention (or something in that vein depending on budget and sophistication desired), especially if you want to visualize trends over the years -- though I'm not sure how useful they would be for qualitative data unless you were to codify it first.  However, you may or may not need a separate tool for actually storing the data.  E.g. you could probably do a lot of those things with pivot tables but obviously storing a decade's worth of alumni surveys in Excel is not ideal.

    Some people also mentioned Power BI and Google Data Studio on this thread:

    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Technical Training Specialist, Development and Alumni Relations
    Johns Hopkins Institutions
    Baltimore, MD

  • 5.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 11, 2018 07:30

    I would make one distinction between storing the data and analyzing and presenting the data.

    When people think of analysis, they often move immediately to the presentation tools (e.g. Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik).
    And each vendor will tell you that you can just take your data directly from wherever and put it in the tool and away you go.

    However, I would suggest that you need to put the data in a database first unless you are really just using one very simple data source.

    Which means, getting the data into a database (like SQL Server, which most small to mid-sized organizations have or can get fro free) and then analyzing it with the appropriate tool.

    Also, once you have the data clean and in one place, you can start using Excel for analysis to figure out what you might want to do before you invest in another tool.

    Good luck.



    Adam Jacobson

    Red Three Consulting, Inc.

    Helping social service agencies maximize revenue and results with data.



    PO Box 280 Bronx NY 10463-0280


  • 6.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 13, 2018 09:36
    Interesting points I hadn't considered, Adam! I think most orgs are dealing with more than one data source, between their CMS, email marketing and web analytics just for starters.

    I see a lot of talk about data warehouses being the future of data-driven nonprofits, but when you put that way, it seems a lot less intimidating. Spinning up a SQL server in the cloud is really easy in Azure.

    And pivot tables in Excel are enormously powerful!

    Emilio Arocho
    Director, Technology and Digital Strategy
    Food and Drug Law Institute

  • 7.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 14, 2018 10:57

    Data Warehouses can mean a lot of things – from creating more segments in your general ledger to tools specifically design to manage all the data and reporting for fortune 500 companies.

    But I spend a lot of my life getting Excel, csv and other files into SQL server and then getting reports written.

    I have a whole bunch of documentation which I've built for myself which I hope to put into edited formatted on just how to do this.

    Let me know if you'd like a copy (shooting for March).



    Adam Jacobson

    Red Three Consulting, Inc.

    Helping social service agencies maximize revenue and results with data.



    PO Box 280 Bronx NY 10463-0280


  • 8.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 11, 2018 10:47
    For robust social-science-level survey analysis, you're probably talking about statistical tools, eg R, SPSS, SAS. These are tools for data analysis experts who know what they're looking for and have strong data-mining and statistics skills.

    If you're looking for a toolset for analyzing and visualizing your SurveyMonkey data that's more powerful than what comes w SurveyMonkey - something that will automatically produce common types of reports and let you explore your data more easily, consider DataHero or DataCracker. Both integrate easily w Survey Monkey, and unlike a tool like Tableau, they'll come with many predefined and pre-built reports and visualizations based specifically on survey analysis. A vanilla BI tool like Tableau or even just advanced Excel use, will require you to build all of that yourself.

    For many orgs at a relatively mature state of data collection and analysis, a common approach is to push data from surveys into a SQL database and use SSRS (Sequel Server Reporting Service) to develop queries. This approach makes good sense for orgs that already have SQL databases and infrastructure in place, since you don't have to buy or implement any new tech.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

  • 9.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 11, 2018 06:47
    Hi Aparna- There are a lot of great tools out there for this type of data analysis, and Janice mentioned a few of them in Tableau, Google Data Studio, and Microsoft's Power BI.

    We've done a lot of analysis on these tools, and one that we have landed on for day to day use is called Chartio - One of my staff members wrote a blog post a little while ago on our evaluation of many such tools, you could check it out here:

    Hope that helps!

    Jeff Horne
    Founder and CEO
    Wicket Inc.
    Ottawa, ON

  • 10.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 12, 2018 14:49

    I did not see any special Nonprofit pricing for Chartio - but you can get free versions of Tableau and MS Power BI as a nonprofit - may have to pay for some premium features.

    I think the Google option too is mostly free - 

    Stuart F. McClain, CPA (Inactive)


    Regional Access Project Foundation

    (760) 674-9992

    41550 Eclectic St. Palm Desert, CA 92260

  • 11.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 15, 2018 08:55
    Chartio does offer non-profit pricing - we've had several customers negotiate pricing with them and they are pretty flexible.

    Lots of advice here on spinning up a SQL Server instance, getting your data into it, and running queries from there. For the more non-technical, using tools like Tableau, Chartio, PowerBI, etc. can let you get your data in from many data sources (even Excel) and then start querying it using a drag and drop interface.

    Great thread with lots of good ideas here!

    Jeff Horne
    Founder and CEO
    Wicket Inc.
    Ottawa, ON

  • 12.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 16, 2018 08:45
    but you can get free versions of Tableau and MS Power BI as a nonprofit - may have to pay for some premium features.
    Stuart McClain,  Jan 12, 2018 14:48
    Quick note -- Tableau (as well as some others) are set up that, if you're a free user, the data you load into the tool becomes publicly viewable -- and not just your charts but someone can easily download your underlying dataset as well.

    For lots and lots of uses, this is perfectly fine -- in many cases you might be using data from NGOs that's publicly accessible anyway.  In other cases, you might be able to remove any personal information before loading it into the tool.  A survey dataset might include email address, but you can remove that column in Excel before uploading, and the resulting data doesn't reveal anything personal.

    Just something to look out for.  I love Tableau btw, but nearly all the datasets we work with are public data.


    Nathan Gasser
    President / Owner, Rock River Star

    Data Driven Storytelling | Content & Communication Strategy for
    Nonprofits, Foundations, Global & Public Health

  • 13.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 16, 2018 13:46
    That's a really good point, @Nathan Gasser! Thanks.​

    Lyndal Cairns
    Membership and Engagement Director
    Nonprofit Technology Network

  • 14.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jan 23, 2018 15:47
    Edited by Gavin O'Brien Jan 23, 2018 15:48
    Nonprofits can get a 2-year license for the full version of Tableau for $58 on TechSoup:

    Gavin O'Brien
    Primary Contact
    Community Servings
    Boston, MA

  • 15.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Jul 24, 2018 18:21

    Tableau, being the most popular tool to compare the data year over year (YOY). It is a simple and intuitive tool which offers intriguing insights through data visualization.It has a  visualistic approach to investigate hypothesis or exploring the data.

    What Tableau has to offer you:

    • You can publish interactive data visualizations to the web for free.
    • No programming skills required.
    • Visualizations published to Tableau Public can be embedded into blogs and web pages and be shared through email or social media. The shared content can be made available for downloads.

      With the help of Tableau, one can compare the data year over year.

    Shubham Mangal
    Non-Profit Web Analyst

  • 16.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Sep 19, 2018 12:38
    Hi Aparna,

    Though it seems like a simple question, I think there are actually a few parts to it:
    - What is a good way to store our org's data (including this particular survey)?
    - What is a good way to analyze that date?
    - What is a good way to share that analysis with other people?

    For the first question, I think the best way to store it is all together. I think one of the biggest difficulties for organizations, especially nonprofits, is fragmentation. It sounds like you already have a central place to keep that data (Salesforce), but there are many other options ranging from a SQL database to a series of very well maintained folders with very well maintained spreadsheets. The important part (and the hard part) is to have a deliberate system that everyone follows. When it comes down to actual tools or systems to use, I think the best system is the one you and your staff are comfortable with. If Salesforce makes sense and is easy to use, stick with that.

    Analyzing data can be tricky too, because I think a lot of the work of good analysis happens inside heads rather than on screens. I think SurveyMonkey actually has a decent primer on survey methods (How to Analyze Survey Data: Methods & Examples | SurveyMonkey). I also know that they do have features for comparing survey data year over year, filter, and compare (Data Trends) even using the free version. If I were in the same boat, I might try to find a volunteer or professional who is experienced in survey methodology to work with and learn from. Coursera also even has a specialization on the Survey Data Collection and Analysis (Survey Data Collection and Analytics | Coursera)

    Once you have explored your questions a bit, you might consider using a product like Tableau or charts in a spreadsheet program or even programmatically visualizing it using Processing, D3, or R. Like the above question, I think a lot of the work behind telling a good data story happens in heads first. This article gives a brief overview (Getting into data visualization - where should I start?).

    Best of luck!

    Colin Roberts
    Rainier Scholars
    Seattle, WA

  • 17.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Dec 19, 2018 01:14
    Hi all,

    I have been working in the field of data analytics and visualization for Nonprofits and therefore would like to share my view on this topic.

    No wonder Tableau is one of the most sought after Business Intelligence tools used across industries but there is no doubt Google Data Studio is catching up.

    Here's a quick comparison that will help you decide what's better for you and your organization:
    i. Price: Tableau Public is a limited version and FREE, otherwise license starts at $35/month. Google data studio is completely FREE.
    ii. Connectors: Both offer connectors but Data Studio lets you connect to data sources like Adwords, Youtube Analytics which Tableau does not.
    iii. Data management: Data Studio offers better data management capabilities compared to Tableau in terms of managing data sources being used.

    None the less, Tableau also has several advantages over Data Studio including 150 functions for data manipulation, flexibility in custom visualizations and in-built data joining capabilities.

    Hope that helps.

    P.S. If you require help in analytics and data visualization or want to set up dashboards for your organization, you can always reach us at

    COE for Data Visualization
    Skype: rajat.sood_3

  • 18.  RE: Data Analysis Tools?

    Posted Dec 20, 2018 08:17
    What about Power BI? The only drawback I can think of is Power BI Desktop which you need for building your reports can only be downloaded on a PC. Otherwise, it is free to download the full desktop version. Then if you need a Pro license to share reports it is only $25 per year per user and both Mac and PC users can access your published reports/dashboards on the web based Power BI service. 

    Not that Tableau is a bad product (I have not explored Google Data Studio), just pretty pricey in comparison to Power BI.

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