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Big Data for Nonprofits

Why Big Data is the Key to Your Organization’s Survival

You’ve heard the term “Big Data” but what does it mean for your nonprofit? This course will teach you how to leverage your data so your organization can thrive in mission achievement and financial sustainability for years to come.
"Big Data is the way all large businesses are going. The nonprofit community can hop on this train now or get left in the dust"
- Gordon Hecker, Executive Director of the Columbus Jewish Federation and former SVP of Corporate Marketing for Nationwide Insurance
"Across sectors, we expect to see value accruing to the leading users of  "big data," at the expense of laggards, a trend for which emerging evidence is growing stronger. Forward-thinking leaders can begin to aggressively build their organizations’ big data capabilities."
- McKinsey Global Institute
"Big Data is about what, not why. Humans have been conditioned to look for causes even though searching for causality is often difficult and may lead us down the wrong paths. In a big-data world we can discover patterns and correlations in the data that offer us novel and invaluable insights. Correlations may not tell us precisely why something is happening but they alert us that it is happening. If millions of electronic medical records reveal that cancer sufferers who take a certain combination of aspirin and orange juice see their disease go into remission, then the exact cause for the improvement in health may be less important than the fact that they lived."
- Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, Big Data: A Revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think

Upcoming Sessions

  1. Teams of C-Suite nonprofit organization professionals
  2. Board Members of nonprofit organizations


  1. You must have at least one decision-maker from your organization attend, as it facilitates your ability to act upon the course once you return to your organization
  2. Your organizations must have a minimum budget of at least one million dollars
  3. This program is designed for teams, so there must be at least two and no more than five participants from the same organization

Achieving the mission of the organization and operating in a financially sustainable manner has never been an easy task for nonprofit leaders. Big Data for Nonprofits will enable you to address key questions:

  1. How can I marshal my organization’s data to make better decisions?
  2. What activities have the greatest "bang for our buck" on our outcomes?
  3. I am under a lot of pressure to show my organization’s impact on long-term outcomes; how can I track or take credit for those when they are out of my control because the clients have moved on to another life stage and other organizations?
  4. How do we engage in collective impact?
  5. Can we predict which donors are most likely to become my major funders of the future so I know how to spend my limited time?
  6. Case studies exploring these themes

This program will address these important questions and provide opportunities for dialog with nonprofit big data experts and Kellogg School faculty. It will help nonprofit leaders better understand the current trends and learn tactics that they can employ to ensure their organization not only survives but thrives.

Understand the 7 steps of data-driven decision making

  1. What is Success?
  2. Logic models
  3. Building Data Collection Tools
  4. Data Analysis Interpretation
  5. Decision Making
  6. Communicating Data with Staff/Donors/Board Members/Stakeholders

Determine what creates the most bang for the buck
Collective impact: leverage data beyond your own organization
Moving beyond anecdotes to data-driven decisions

  1. Learn how to focus limited resources to cultivate the right donors using the right levers
  2. Identify tools, including databases and surveys, to measure and monitor activities at the nonprofit organization
  3. Understand how to analyze and interpret the data and identify the drivers of giving
  4. Training to shift the culture at the nonprofit organization from anecdotal to data-driven
  5. Identify best practices in building a database that works to build donor knowledge at the organization
Nancy Kaplan - COO, Measuring Success

Sacha Litman - Managing Director and CEO, Measuring Success

Nonprofit Management Programs are held at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus.

Wieboldt Hall

Kellogg Conference Center
340 East Superior Street
Maps and Directions

Programs typically start promptly at 8:30 am and end by 5:00 pm each day. Once you have registered and paid for a program, you will receive a detailed schedule which includes daily start/end times, session titles, and faculty names.

Program Fees
All two and three-day programs cost $950.00 each. Up to 50% scholarships are available for all of our nonprofit executive education programs for those working in nonprofit organizations.

Application Deadline
The deadline for registration is 10:00 am one business day prior to the program start date.

Participants are responsible for booking their hotel accommodations during their stay in Chicago.
Download Recommended Hotel List

Cancellation Policy:
Participants must notify the Program Manager five business days in advance of the program start date if they are unable to attend.  Otherwise, participants will be charged 20% of the stated program fees.

When canceling a program registration, participants may choose to rollover their payment to a future program or receive a refund.  Participants are allowed three rollovers, after the third rollover, participants forfeit the money paid to the Center for Nonprofit Management.  

 *Refund or rollover must be requested at the time of the program cancellation.  Once a program payment has been rolled over, a monetary refund is no longer an option.  The participant must continue with the rollover process.

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