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Data Governance v. Data Management

What Is Data Governance?

Data Governance is an organizational strategy for documenting and implementing basic rules and controls around how your organization interacts with your data. 

Reasons to Establish a Data Governance policy:

  • Manage risk by protecting your organization from data loss due to employee turnover or simple forgetfulness 
  • Increase the quality and therefore the trustworthiness of your data
  • Reduce the cost of operation

There are four questions to ask yourself when determining where your organization stands with data  governance: 

  1. Data Availability: Is your data accessible and easy to distill when it’s needed?
  2. Data Integrity: Is your data current, and can it be trusted?
  3. Data Usability: Can your data be leveraged to make sound decisions?
  4. Data Stewardship: Are you following privacy and compliance requirements?

If your answer is NO to any of these questions, consider starting a Data Governance initiative within your organization. 

What Is Data Management? 

Data Management is the day-to-day process and specific actions your organization takes to uphold your Data Governance Policy. A data management policy is the operational procedure that outlines how to accumulate, analyze, apply and act on your data.

Streamline Data Collection to Improve Evaluation

  • Accumulating data: The “how-to” behind collecting and documenting quality, clean, consistent, and relevant data.
  • Analyzing data: The “how-to” behind providing empirical proof of your organizational efforts and identifying trends and patterns.
  • Applying your data: Defines “how-to” use your data to create accurate intelligence to convert into strategic and actionable items.
  • Acting on your data: Defines “how-to” use your data to define the next steps and goals for individuals and your organization. 

Start thinking about how you would define these four data management areas in your organization. 
For more information about how to create a Data Governance policy:  Templates Folder

In Summary: 

Sound data, supported by data governance and management efforts, allows your organization to trust the information that you capture. This information can then be used to increase engagement among supporters and secure additional funding. Trustworthy data enables your organization to:

  • Track constituents and the important, nuanced  information related to each individual
  • Communicate effectively with your community
  • Produce targeted campaigns and programs
  • Build a deeper relationship, increase connection 
  • Execute strategic fundraising and fund management 
  • Protect against knowledge loss due to employee turnover
  • Create accurate projections resulting in more strategic organizational decisions

Good data saves your organization time and money; it also enables more effective programs and fundraising efforts, which will increase the long-term capacity of your organization. Because of its indisputable worth to all operational functions, data maintains a monetary value and is considered an asset. As is true with any monetary asset, spending a proportional amount of staff time and organizational bandwidth to steward this data takes time and effort but will give your organization the long-term capabilities for rapid growth and scalability. 


About the Author

Margaret is Foundant's Manager of Client Services, Strategic Advancement. Before joining Foundant, she spent much of her career on the road as a Major Gifts Officer. Most recently she was the Director of Development for George Washington University’s (GWU) School of Business where she managed a team of four frontline Major Gift Officers, in addition to contributing to a recently closed $1B Campaign, Making History, through her portfolio of principal and major gift level donors. Before GWU, Margaret worked at Georgetown University on the Major Gifts Team and with Grassroot Soccer Inc. in Cape Town, South Africa working on their grant writing and fundraising efforts. Margaret has a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from George Washington University and a B.A. in Religion from Middlebury College. She is actively involved with her alma matter serving as the D.C. Chair for the Alumni Interview Volunteer program for Seven Years before moving back to Montana and continuing her role as an alumni volunteer.

Profile Photo of Margaret Owen Spiak