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4 Tools for Data Driven Nonprofit Decision Making

By Sean Chisholm
Futuristic Map

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In the quest to make data driven business decisions, you will come across a variety of tools. If you try enough of these tools, you’ll find that collecting the right information isn’t the only challenge. The other part of the equation is selecting tools that you get value from. At Classy, we’ve tried different types of applications to collect, categorize, and act on the right data. Some of them have been more helpful than others.

Our list has, what we think, are the most useful applications we think have solid crossover appeal for nonprofits. Here are 4 tools for data driven decision making:

1. Salesforce


Salesforce is a back end CRM system that many other applications (like Classy) feed into. When you aggregate all of your information into a powerful CRM system like Salesforce, you can run all sorts of reports to get a better understanding of who you are interacting with.

For example, when one of your fundraisers signs up through Classy, we collect birthdate information. Using the Classy-Salesforce integration, that information automatically gets pushed into your Salesforce account in real time. Then, using Salesforce reporting features you can start to analyze the age ranges of your typical fundraisers. This in turn might help inform your marketing and communications strategy.

Another nice thing about Salesforce is that qualifying nonprofits can receive 10 free licenses. If you haven’t looked at Salesforce as a potential CRM solution yet, you can check them out by visiting the Salesforce Foundation’s website.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics has a lot of functionality– so much, in fact, that we’re not even going to try and cover most of it. The core aspects of Google Analytics, another free tool in the Google for Nonprofits suite, are pretty straightforward though. Basically Google Analytics allows you to analyze the traffic coming to your website, see where that traffic is coming from, and what pages visitors are interacting with.

With the Classy-Google Analytics integration, you can take things a step further and track conversion information as well (donations made, fundraisers created). There are some useful visualization tools that can also help you get a better grasp of how donors are flowing through your site before they actually contribute financially.

3. Optimizely

Optimizely makes very user-friendly A/B testing software. If you’re not familiar with A/B testing, it basically involves showing variants of a particular web page to different visitors and comparing which variant performs better. For example, you might run an A/B test varying the color of the donate button on your home page to see if one color can produce a (statistically significant) higher click rate. There are tons of tests you can run on your website to optimize various processes (donations, newsletter signups, etc.). We A/B test things all the time at Classy.

What we think differentiates Optimizely from other A/B testing software we’ve used (Google Analytics has some of this functionality too) is that it takes the technical headaches out of the process. You don’t need to know how to code to use Optimizely. You can drag and drop things around the screen, changing various elements to set up tests to run. This ease of use makes Optimizely a viable option for nonprofits with fairly limited tech chops.

4. HubSpot

We use HubSpot’s software to run our inbound marketing efforts at Classy and it’s a great product. “Inbound marketing” is used to capture a new style of internet marketing embraced by both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Essentially it involves using content to attract visitors to your website, leveraging that content to nurture relationships over time, and ultimately converting visitors into customers, donors, fundraisers, etc. If this is a news to you, you should definitely check out HubSpot’s blog which is chock full of useful information.

HubSpot provides a wide variety of analytics that can help you make more data driven decisions in your marketing efforts. You can dive into the sources of your web traffic at a high level or in more detail. You can also analyze the effectiveness of your email campaigns, landing pages, and the content you create. What’s particularly nice about HubSpot is that they give you just the right amount of data driven information. You are not overwhelmed by extraneous data and the numbers can also be visualized very easily.

How the Classy-Salesforce Integration Drives Growth

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