Philanthropists should reimagine data management: Research

Perpetual research presents new strategies for the philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors that mitigate data risks and helps them get ahead in an increasingly digital technology-centric society.

Perpetual national manager of philanthropy and non-profit services Caitriona Fay is calling for the philanthropic culture to shift so it inspires investment in technical infrastructure to ensure data is used ethically and protected.

Such funding requests might "not be sexy" but they are critical to the health of the community sector. Asking for donated data as opposed to cash can be an effective method to gain insights that no amount of money could ever buy, she said.

Donors for example, may be willing to provide genetic data to advance research and health outcomes for their communities. Those donors need to feel confident with who is accessing the data and how it will be managed, she added.

Fay's comments come off the back of new research compiled by Perpetual and The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, which shows mismanagement of data is a major concern for the sector.

Social media platforms, the survey said, are key tool for attracting donors. About 43% of not-for-profits (NFPs) have a social media strategy and 78% use social media activities to drive awareness of an organisation's activities.

Interestingly, employees are more likely to claim social media is critical for advocacy than board members, although all participants recognised the importance of a social media presence.

Forty-three per cent of NFP board members agreed protecting data is more important than using it - although many conceded they are underprepared for the challenges data management entails.

"NFPs are exposed to a particularly unique risk when it comes to data. Even if intentions are good, any misuse or accidental sharing of data by an NFP organisation may have stronger negative implications for that organisation than it would for many profit-driven businesses, and may even erode trust across the NFP sector," Fay said.

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