The entire world now runs on data, and this includes nonprofit organizations. In this three-part series of articles, we’re discussing data audits–what they are, why you should conduct one, and how to do it.
In the first part, we defined the data audit and discussed its emergence as a standard business practice. Here in the second part, we’ll discuss why your nonprofit should conduct a data audit and how to get one started.
As you’ve probably already recognized, the data audit isn’t just something that might provide some incidental or periodic benefits to nonprofit organizations. If a nonprofit is to collect and utilize data effectively and efficiently, the data audit is a practice that must be adopted and embraced.
Time and money savings. After a data audit, it’s likely that time-wasting data collection will be identified. Collecting data without using it wastes money and time–so identify what data you don’t need and quit collecting it.
Less legal and ethical exposure. Finding all an organization’s data and making sure it is safe and secure will reduce the organization’s risk of embarrassing data losses or leaks. The growing legal frameworks that govern the collection, management, and protection of data increasingly insist that data auditing should become a routine practice.
Better compliance and transparency. In the coming years, watch for philanthropic organizations and individuals to begin requiring more transparency and legal compliance with data-related laws and guidelines. Rather than have to “catch up” when a grant-giver requires proof of data integrity and security, start now.
Other kinds of audits (such as financial audits, asset audits, etc.) already have rules and procedures, some of which are mandated by laws. These more well-known audits likely have personnel assigned to oversee them. The data audit, on the other hand, maybe something new, and your organization may have the task of figuring out how to conduct the data along with actually conducting the audit.
With your personnel, data, and metrics in place, you’re ready to move forward and hopefully get a better grip on your organizational data. In part 3, we’ll continue the discussion by offering tips on how to audit your data and what to do with the results.