Author ORCID Identifier

Duncan J. Mayer

Robert L. Fischer

Document Type


Publication Date



Organizations around the world have increasingly employed data for a variety of purposes, and nonprofit organizations are no exception. This article reviews the use of data in nonprofit organizations, including the types of data collected and accessed, the motivations for data capture, and the barriers to systematic use of data. The literature shows that nonprofit organizations capture a variety of data, including public and financial data, performance measures, program evaluation data, and volunteer information. Organizations use these with diverse motivations such as program or organizational improvement, marketing, and accountability. Prominent barriers faced by organizations include challenges in identifying meaningful information, lack of technical ability, inability to prioritize data work, as well as external influences. The article highlights the challenges in synthesizing the available literature, with a high degree of fragmentation, including research from distinct intellectual traditions resulting in many disconnected constructs, measurements, and theories. Finally, the paper discusses challenges in the study of nonprofit data use and strives to provide guidance for future inquiry.


nonprofit management, data use, performance measurement, evaluation use

Publication Title

Evaluation and Program Planning




©2022 Elsevier Ltd.


This is a peer reviewed Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Evaluation and Program Planning, available at: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2022.102197

Available for download on Monday, December 02, 2024