It has always been important for charities to have a ‘single source of truth’ for their core data, but if anything, it will become even more critical in the years ahead.
What I mean by this is that if you want to know a supporter’s latest address, their most up-to-date communication preferences, who is stewarding them in your charity etc; or if you want to know the average income from your last n appeals, your total registration information for your events; and so on… then you need to know that you can get the correct information by going to one source system.
If you still have more than one database which stores the same information, multiple spreadsheets which have been created by different users, or if your data integration processes from your website or other data sources are not working, then it is highly likely that you will get a different answer depending who you ask or where you look.
You need a single source of truth.
However, do note that this does not mean you necessarily need to have only one database or even the infamous 360 Degree View. You could well have multiple databases but as long as you have a ‘central system’ where your core data is collated then you should be able to get the figures you need. And, of course, you need to ensure that there are not teams in your organisation who have their own spreadsheets “because they're my records…”.
Depending on your database setup, the goal of a single source of truth may not be too difficult - it may be more about consolidating data flows and processes - or it could be much harder f you do have many data repositories and a lack of organisational control/understanding for where data is stored and why. One good option for medium/large organisations is to have a data warehouse where you can collate all your important data and where specialist staff can create reports for your KPIs which everyone will trust and know is right.
Make this need your first organisational New Year resolution.