Not-for-profits have nothing to fear and everything to gain from data science, but they need to be clear about what they want from it before embarking on any data project, according to environment group Climate for Change (C4C).
The group gleaned these insights and more at a data hackathon hosted late last year by Our Community's Innovation Lab to explore the potential of data-driven fundraising.
"The first step is to think about what data you are currently gathering, and what you want to know," said C4C's community fundraising manager, Marta Zajac.
Volunteer data analyst Olivia Bicks said social sector organisations shouldn't be afraid of the buzzwords "data" and "data science".
"Don't be scared of the buzzword… it doesn't have to be that complicated," she said. "Even one small piece of analysis can lead to more questions and more insights."
The hackathon aimed to analyse C4C's donations data to help the group to develop a diverse and sustainable fundraising model that doesn't rely solely on crowdfunding campaigns. The analysis also highlighted how the group could more effectively target potential donors.
Crowdfunding is C4C's main source of income, and the organisation has raised more than $600,000 from four crowdfunding campaigns since it was established in 2014 - but that takes up a lot of time and resources, according to Ms Zajac.
C4C worked with the Innovation Lab and a team of data specialists from Deloitte, using the Fundraising Report Card as inspiration and nine key metrics.
The hackathon was the first event of its kind hosted by Our Community. "We all learned something," said the Innovation Lab's director of data intelligence, Sarah Barker.
"A hackathon is a great way to apply some focus to a problem, see what might work well and what limitations there are. You typically walk away with a list of next steps rather than a finished product."