How Nonprofits Like the YMCA Use Data to Maximize Community Impact & ROI

The biggest truth about data is that it only has real value if it changes the way organizations act and think. In today’s data-driven world, having the right data can help nonprofit organizations become more transparent and accountable, helping them demonstrate to donors and members that their programs and initiatives are achieving objectives.

And yet, while most nonprofits now recognize that they need a data-driven digital strategy to grow and be accountable, a recent study shows that more than 56% of respondents said their nonprofits don’t have any staff dedicated to data analytics and digital strategy.

But that’s just the first step. The availability of data by itself isn’t enough. Nonprofits need to be able to define the questions they’re trying to answer with data, why they’re asking those questions and how exactly they will use the answers to become more efficient and effective.

To take that one step further, nonprofits should be looking for trends and insights in their data to identify and find solutions to problems that don’t even exist yet, but might be just around the corner.

How the YMCA of Austin Uses Data to Drive Memberships & Community Impact

The YMCA of Austin serves more than 65,000 members and an additional 60,000 program participants through eight branches in Travis, Hays and Bastrop Counties. In Austin, across the nation and around the world, the nonprofit constantly searches for innovative ways to meet community needs, and builds programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

First-Party Data Offers Deep, Actionable Insights

Umbel partnered with the YMCA of Austin to collect and unify their member and fan data from multiple sources. This deep data helped them truly understand who their members are and which segments of the community are most impacted by their programs and services. In addition to existing data that was uploaded into Umbel from multiple sources, additional first-party data was collected by activating and engaging the Austin community by running giveaways via Umbel’s turnkey Audience Activators. The unified data could now be easily segmented based on demographics helping the YMCA demonstrate to donors that programs and initiatives are reaching the desired target audiences.

4X ROI and 15% Increase in Memberships in First Month Alone

The smart data gathered was used to create member and fan user profiles to identify look-alike audiences. The YMCA then ran a data-driven ad campaign via Umbel’s Reach Extension tool to target this look-alike audience. During the first month of the test (January 2015), the goal was to increase new memberships by 5% as compared to January 2014. The YMCA shattered their monthly goal with a 15% increase in new memberships, making it the highest number of January signups ever for the Austin region. This attributed to 160% over goal attainment, and 4 times the ROI for the January campaign alone. The YMCA is continuing to use the data to run many other successful campaigns in 2015.

Data-Driven Ads Get Higher Click-Thrus

One of the goals for the YMCA of Austin is to use data more effectively to optimize their marketing spend and increase ROI. By using data insights they acquired via Umbel, they were able to significantly increase the click-through and conversion rates of their ads. For the January 2015 campaign, their ads had double the CTR of comparable ads in the nonprofit and fitness industries.

With Umbel we were able to better understand our existing members and the programs they care about most. We used that data to increase new memberships, enhance services and expand our overall impact on the Austin community.” – Leilani Perry, Director of Marketing, YMCA of Austin

Now that the YMCA of Austin has so much rich data on their members, fans and the local community they plan to use this data to make better decisions on new programs, services, marketing campaigns, financial investment decisions and fundraising. Their member data will continue to help inform donors on the community segments most impacted by their programs (example: teens, women, seniors etc.), and help the YMCA renew donations and find new donors.

Data insights can help nonprofits monitor and assess programs, optimize their advertising and marketing spend and update policies based on needs and success rates to ensure maximum impact. Data can also help nonprofits make better decisions on which new products and services to launch and which sections of the community they need to serve more. Most importantly, having the right data helps nonprofits like the YMCA answer the question: “How do we know if what we are doing is really making a difference?”

Read the full YMCA Success Story here.