Shop With Purpose: A Guide to Online Shopping Fundraisers

Shop With Purpose: A Guide to Online Shopping Fundraisers

It’s no secret that online shopping is rapidly growing in popularity. Research shows that e-commerce sales generated more than $856 billion in revenue in 2022, and approximately 2.64 billion customers are expected to make at least one online purchase sometime in 2023.

So, what do these statistics have to do with you, a nonprofit professional? They mean that, in your search for innovative fundraising strategies to engage your organization’s supporters and boost your revenue generation, you should consider tapping into the power of online shopping!

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get started with an online shopping fundraiser for your nonprofit. Here’s what we’ll cover:

With the right tools on your side, you can turn an online shopping fundraiser into a lucrative year-round campaign for your organization. Let’s dive in!

Online Shopping Fundraisers: An Overview

An online shopping fundraiser allows your supporters to contribute to your nonprofit by making everyday purchases from participating e-commerce businesses.

To make this fundraiser work, you’ll need to sign your organization up with an online shopping fundraiser program. When supporters use the program’s app to shop online, a percentage of their total sale will go directly to your nonprofit at no additional cost to you or the shopper.

It’s likely that you heard of (or even participated in) AmazonSmile, one of the best-known programs that ran on this model, before its 2023 discontinuation. However, there are a variety of alternatives to AmazonSmile that your nonprofit can still partner with to run your online shopping fundraiser. Plus, these programs often offer benefits that Amazon Smile didn’t, such as higher commission rates and more flexibility in their retailer options.

Benefits of Online Shopping Fundraisers

Online shopping fundraisers benefit both your nonprofit and its supporters. Let’s explore some of the advantages from both perspectives.

For Nonprofits

Some of the reasons why your organization should consider launching an online shopping fundraiser include:

  • It’s easy to run. Once your partner program’s experts walk you through a simple onboarding process, your fundraiser will basically run itself. Then, all you have to do is promote the campaign and track your results.
  • It provides unrestricted funding. Some of the funds your nonprofit receives have to be used for specific programs or projects according to your agreement with the donor or grantmaker. However, the contributions from your online shopping fundraiser can be put toward any area of your nonprofit’s budget that needs additional funding, including operating expenses.
  • It helps diversify your nonprofit’s revenue streams. According to Jitasa’s nonprofit financial management guide, having multiple funding sources allows your organization to achieve greater financial stability. Online shopping fundraisers can be run year-round, making them a great way to supplement your nonprofit’s other fundraising efforts.

Online shopping fundraisers are also completely free for your organization to launch, and they work for nonprofits of all sizes and in all verticals.

For Supporters

Supporters can also benefit from your nonprofit’s online shopping fundraisers in multiple ways, including the following:

  • It’s a no-ask sale. Most other fundraising campaigns that involve buying items, such as product fundraisers or branded merchandise sales, require supporters to go out of their way to give to your organization. Online shopping fundraisers, on the other hand, allow supporters to contribute by purchasing items they were likely going to buy anyway, so they don’t have to spend any additional money to support your nonprofit.
  • It’s highly flexible. As long as the program you partner with has access to a wide network of retailers, supporters will have lots of options when it comes to shopping for your cause.
  • It allows them to shop more ethically. Shoppers can feel good about their online purchases when they know that they’re supporting an organization that makes a difference in their community at the same time.

Participating in an online shopping fundraiser can also be a great entry point for supporters to get involved with your nonprofit. If you review your fundraising data and notice that a brand-new supporter has just shopped for your cause, reach out to them with a welcome email series providing more information about your organization’s work and other ways for them to engage in it.

How to Launch an Online Shopping Fundraiser

According to ShopRaise’s guide to shopping for a cause, your organization can start its own online shopping fundraiser in just three easy steps. Let’s walk through the process in more detail.

1. Partner With a Fundraising Program

As stated previously, the first thing you need to do to launch your online shopping fundraiser is find a dedicated platform to launch your campaign. Look for a program that not only has connections to a wide network of retailers but will also handle all business negotiations for you. Additionally, make sure to ask about their commission rates and whether they can scale with your organization.

Once you’re onboarded with the program and they’ve created a branded landing page for your nonprofit, you’re ready to start spreading the word about your fundraiser to your supporters!

2. Market Your Fundraiser

Marketing is essential for a successful online shopping fundraiser, and leveraging multiple communication methods will allow you to reach as many supporters as possible. Provide instructions for how to participate in your fundraiser and reminders to continue shopping for your cause via the following channels:

The program you partner with can sometimes help with this step by creating email templates, flyer designs, and website banners advertising your fundraiser, all featuring your organization’s logo and brand colors.

3. Track Your Results

Through your online shopping fundraiser platform, you’ll be able to view real-time data on your nonprofit’s campaign. Analyzing this information serves two main purposes. First, you can hone your marketing strategy over time to prioritize the channels that drive the most conversions.

Second, you can recognize your top supporters individually. Send them personalized thank-you messages with their names and fundraising totals, and remind them to keep up the good work in shopping for your cause. To protect shoppers’ privacy, these two pieces of information are all your organization will be able to see—only the supporter will know exactly what items they purchased.

Online shopping fundraisers combine two societal trends—e-commerce and digital fundraising—to provide year-round funding for your organization. While it’s important to maintain your usual fundraising pushes, such as events and your year-end giving campaign, supplementing these efforts with online shopping makes it even more likely that your nonprofit will bring in the revenue it needs to further its mission.

4 Online Fundraising Campaign Ideas to Boost Your Reach

4 Online Fundraising Campaign Ideas to Boost Your Reach

These days, almost everything has gone digital—even fundraising. Hosting your fundraising campaign online is beneficial not only for the existing donors in your community, but also for reaching new donors. An online campaign can expand your reach beyond your community, acting as an innovative way to engage supporters from across the country and even the world. 

To get started, you’ll need a compelling fundraising campaign idea that aligns with your nonprofit’s goals and meets your unique audience’s interests and motivations. Not sure where to begin? Explore our roundup of the top online fundraising ideas guaranteed to spur donations and help you achieve your fundraising goals:

Host a combination of these campaigns or use them as inspiration to plan a unique online fundraiser at any point of the year. Let’s dive in! 

Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser 

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a fun and engaging way to get your supporters directly involved in the fundraising process. During a peer-to-peer fundraiser, you’ll hand over the fundraising reins to your most loyal supporters, empowering them to create their own fundraising pages. By tapping their personal networks to help meet their fundraising goals, your supporters will effectively introduce you to brand new donors, boosting your donor acquisition rate

To maximize the success of your online fundraising campaign, the OneCause guide to peer-to-peer fundraising best practices recommends leveraging these best practices: 

  • Recruit supporters to help: Market your peer-to-peer campaign online using channels like your website, social media, and email to help promote this opportunity and pique your existing supporters’ interest. You can also reach out to well-connected supporters, like board members and major donors, to serve as ambassadors and lend a helping hand in fundraising. 
  • Provide training and instructions: Consider hosting an online training session to go over peer-to-peer fundraising best practices and how to create a personal fundraising page. You can also consolidate these instructions in a digital guidebook that can be accessed at any time. Make sure you have a point-person to field any supporter questions and walk them through best practices if they need additional advice. 
  • Pair your campaign with exciting events: Consider hosting your peer-to-peer fundraiser alongside an event to increase engagement, such as a walk-a-thon, an online silent auction, or a livestreamed panel with members of your team who can discuss your cause in detail.  

Once your fundraiser concludes, remember to thank all of your peer-to-peer fundraisers who helped make it happen. A handwritten thank-you note or shout-out on social media can go a long way in helping your supporters feel appreciated and eager to champion your cause again in the future. 

Matching Gift Campaign 

According to 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate philanthropy, a matching gift campaign allows your nonprofit to double the impact of donors’ gifts with the help of corporate support. In a matching gift campaign, corporate donors will match gifts during a certain period of time. For example, if a donor gave $100 to your nonprofit, a corporate sponsor might match this at a 1:1 ratio, resulting in $200 for your nonprofit.  

To get started with matching gifts, follow these steps: 

  • Research companies with similar values and interests: Research local businesses and ask your board members and staff for references of companies who may be interested. Even if they say no to providing a matching gift, they may be a valuable resource to tap into for future fundraisers, such as sponsorship opportunities or silent auction item procurement.  
  • Create a corporate sponsorship proposal: Create a letter that pitches a partnership, outlines what type of support you’re seeking (such as matching at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio), and when you hope to host a matching gift campaign. You’ll also need to explain how the gift matching will help bring your nonprofit closer to reaching its goals and how your corporate partner will benefit from this arrangement. For instance, you might promote their company in your marketing materials to help expand their reach in exchange for financial support. 
  • Follow up and express appreciation: At the end of your matching gift campaign, let your corporate partner know how much you raised and how the funds will be used to further your mission. Expressing gratitude can help you secure their support again in the future. 

Make sure to promote your matching gift campaign widely and well in advance so supporters know when it’s happening and how they can get involved.  

Text-to-Give Campaign 

A text-to-give campaign is one of the easiest ways to raise money online. It enables donors to give donations at any time on their own devices. Supporters simply submit donations right from their phones, making the donation process inherently convenient, simple, and rewarding.  

You can use text-to-give donation channels for everyday fundraising, not just during an event. Using it is easy—all your supporters need is a specific keyword and the short- or long-code that they’ll text (which should be provided by your text-to-give solution). This will automatically take mobile donors to your nonprofit’s donation page.  

Be sure to find a good software solution that can support virtual transactions and customizations specific to your nonprofit. Specifically, look for a text-to-give solution that offers features like: 

  • Gamification tools to inspire giving, including a scoreboard 
  • Automated email receipts 
  • Flexible payment options 
  • Donor data collection and automated reports

On top of having the right fundraising technology, you also need to make sure you’re doing everything possible to build up your contact list. Promote your text-to-give campaign widely to encourage all your supporters to opt-in. A multichannel marketing plan can help you put your text-to-give campaign at the forefront of supporters’ minds, so consider generating content related to text-to-give on your social media, website, and email newsletters. 

Crowdfunding Campaign 

If you’re looking for a campaign that will make a big impact without asking your donors to empty their wallets, a crowdfunding campaign might be right for you. A crowdfunding campaign raises smaller amounts of revenue from a large pool of donors—think $5 per person. If you ask a group of 100 donors to give that much, you will walk away with a hefty donation, and your donors won’t feel fatigued. 

Most crowdfunding campaigns happen online, so you’ll need to establish a strong digital presence for your fundraiser. Consider creating a fundraising microsite with the following elements: 

  • Embedded donation form with a simple donation process and limited prompts
  • Your nonprofit’s branding
  • Storytelling that explains how the donations will be used, including emotionally compelling visuals
  • Social sharing features so supporters can promote your microsite among their personal networks

After your crowdfunding campaign wraps up, be sure to show your appreciation to all of your participating donors and share how the donations will be used. By cultivating relationships with these donors, you can increase the likelihood that they’ll continue to come back and donate to your organization again and again! 

Wrapping Up 

As you think through which fundraising idea makes the most sense for your organization, consider your audience and what will excite them the most to give. Then, channel that idea into a well-designed online campaign that will help you spread awareness and bring in more funds.  

Before you dive into your new campaign, make sure you’re working with the best fundraising technology so you can run your online campaign seamlessly. An all-in-one fundraising platform will provide your nonprofit with everything you need to succeed, whether you’re hosting an in-person, online, or hybrid campaign. Happy fundraising! 

Connect your nonprofit with local businesses.

4 Tips for Connecting Your Nonprofit With Local Businesses

Whether you’re seeking sponsorship, volunteer support, or joint marketing opportunities, establishing partnerships with businesses in your community is a powerful way to enhance your nonprofit’s impact. However, developing these partnerships can be challenging, time-consuming, and confusing without a strategic plan in place. 

In this guide, we’ll explore four tips for connecting your nonprofit with local businesses. From identifying potential partners to creating win-win collaborations, these insights will help you build strong cross-sector relationships that support your mission and drive positive change.

1. Research and Identify Potential Partners

To identify potential partners in the community, a nonprofit can follow these steps:

  • Define your objectives. Nonprofits often seek partnerships when organizing a large-scale fundraising event, launching a community initiative, or implementing a specific program that requires additional financial resources and support.
  • Research local businesses. Conduct thorough research to identify businesses in the community. Utilize online directories, local business associations, chamber of commerce listings, and social media platforms to identify potential partners.
  • Ensure your values align. Evaluate the values, missions, and corporate social responsibility initiatives of the identified businesses. Look for businesses that have a natural connection or alignment with your cause or mission. For example, a dog daycare business would be an obvious match for an animal shelter since they have similar clients and services. 

Reach out to the identified businesses to introduce your nonprofit and express interest in exploring a partnership. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. 

2. Establish Clear Benefits

As you connect with local businesses, introduce your mission and communicate the benefits of a partnership. These may include: 

  • Community development: Partnering with a nonprofit allows businesses to contribute to community development and address social issues which can have a direct impact on their growth.
  • Elevated brand reputation. Collaborating with a nonprofit allows businesses to align themselves with a mission or social good cause, which can enhance their brand reputation and perception among customers, employees, and influencers in the community. 
  • Increased brand awareness. Add the business’s contact information and logo to marketing materials like fundraising flyers, event invitations, and partnership-related emails to increase their brand visibility. Or, create a personalized video about your sponsor and post it to your social media pages.
  • Employee morale and engagement. Most employees value working for a socially responsible company. Creating matching gift programs, introducing volunteer opportunities, and sponsoring local nonprofits can improve their satisfaction. 
  • Tax benefits. Businesses may be eligible for tax benefits or incentives when they donate or support nonprofit organizations. These financial incentives can provide a tangible benefit to the business, helping to offset costs or improve their bottom line.

Customize these benefits to suit the specific goals, needs, and sectors of the businesses you’re approaching. For example, a pet rescue organization might ask a dog trainer to financially support their upcoming adoption event. In return, the pet rescue will use Gingr’s pet business software to promote the dog trainer’s services, potentially leading to an influx of new customers. 

3. Create Tailored Partnership Opportunities

Develop opportunities that cater to different types and sizes of businesses. Offer a range of options, such as:

  • Sponsorship opportunities: Sponsorships come in the form of financial or in-kind contributions. To incentivize larger gifts, Double the Donation’s guide to corporate sponsorships recommends creating tiered benefit packages that correlate to the level of support given. For instance, when you receive a donation of $10,000 or more, you might mention the business in a speech and display its logo on partnership-related materials. Businesses that give less than this might receive a social media shoutout instead. 
  • Joint initiatives: A joint initiative is a collaboration between a nonprofit and a partner organization, in which both work to create a mutually beneficial event, program, or campaign. It involves pooling resources and networks to achieve a greater impact than either organization could achieve alone. 
  • Employee engagement programs: Employee engagement programs focus on involving employees of a business or organization in volunteer activities, fundraising efforts, or other activities that support your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Research collaborations: Nonprofits and businesses might partner together to research studies or projects related to their missions. For example, an animal welfare organization might partner with a dog boarding business to research the safest, most effective accommodations. 

After presenting a business with a partnership opportunity, gauge their interest and thank them for their consideration, regardless of their decision. That way, they will be left with a positive impression of your organization.

4. Demonstrate Impact

If a business agrees to be your partner, take notes throughout the partnership, making note of successes and areas of improvement. 

Then, in your outreach, explain the impact that the partnership has made on your nonprofit and the community as a whole. Share success stories, testimonials, or data that highlight the tangible outcomes of your programs or initiatives. This builds credibility and instills confidence in other potential business partners, showing them how their involvement will make a difference.

Remember, connecting with local businesses requires building meaningful relationships based on shared values and mutual benefits. By taking a strategic and personalized approach, your nonprofit can form valuable partnerships that amplify your impact and strengthen the communities you serve.

To take advantage of spring and summer weather, get your students and supporters outside with these three outdoor school fundraisers.

3 School Fundraisers that Get Your Students Outside

By the end of the school year, it’s likely that students will start to feel burned out by school work and classes, ready to get outside for summer vacation. Their parents might even be planning fun family trips and outings so they can soak up the sun. However, for many student organizations and sports teams, work doesn’t end when classes do. 

If you are a football coach or parent to a player, for example, you know that summer is when the team buckles down to train for the next fall season. But if you’re relying on last season’s funds, it can be difficult to cover the expenses your team incurs during this time (e.g., paying for new uniforms, equipment, and food for players). This year, why not be prepared for these costs by choosing an engaging fundraising idea to kick off the summer season?

In this guide, we’ll explore a few important best practices for holding fundraising outdoors, along with some fun ideas to try out:

  • What are some best practices for outdoor fundraisers?
  • 3 Outdoor Fundraisers for School Groups

There are some unique elements of outdoor fundraisers to consider before starting your campaign. Factors like weather can impact how you plan the event as well as the fundraising methods you choose. Let’s get started by exploring some best practices for addressing these factors.

What are some best practices for outdoor fundraisers?

It’s essential to remember that when you plan an outdoor event, you are surrendering control of certain elements (like the temperature). While a sunny, clear day with a light breeze would be best on these occasions, there’s a chance your fundraiser might be met with exceptionally hot, windy, or rainy conditions. 

To ensure your event is a success no matter what happens outside, here are some things to consider when planning:

  • Keep the weather and venue in mind. Obviously, your team should avoid scheduling the event on days that are likely to be extremely hot or prone to storms. However, weather is not always predictable, especially during warmer months. In the event that temperatures exceed safe limits or there is rain expected, be prepared with an alternative plan. Consider having tents, a secondary location, or a backup date ready in the event of rain.
  • Use a fundraising platform. When your team uses a fundraising platform, supporters can donate online before the event so they don’t need to wait in registration lines at the fundraiser. Additionally, your team won’t need to worry about collecting cash or checks during the event. This adds a layer of financial security as there is no risk of a donation blowing away or getting rained on.
  • Prioritize safety. When events take place outdoors, there are more variable factors at play to impact safety–particularly heat. If you are holding a physically demanding event like a sports tournament or race, make sure to have plenty of water, snacks, and shade available. If food will be present, make sure to adhere to proper food safety procedures during preparation and storage.

In addition to these special considerations, make sure you follow traditional fundraising best practices as well. To generate excitement and attract attendees, marketing the fundraiser ahead of time. And as always, be sure to thank and recognize your donors and volunteers with thank-you cards or emails.

3 Outdoor Fundraisers for School Groups

While there is a time and place for more serious fundraising events like galas, feel free to get creative with these outdoor events. Choose a fundraising idea that your team will love and that your community will want to engage with. Keep in mind that as a school-affiliated organization, parents will make up the largest portion of your volunteer base. So, avoid choosing fundraisers that will require unreasonable amounts of time and effort.

1. Charity Race

A charity race, 5K, or marathon is one of the most traditional, classic outdoor fundraisers. Don’t shy away from these tried-and-true fundraisers–just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it isn’t engaging and effective.  

The best part about holding a charity race is that they can easily be adapted to various age groups and fitness levels. Here are three different types of races your team can organize to appeal to distinct audiences:

  • Walk-a-thon. A walk-a-thon is similar to a traditional 5K, but instead of running, participants are encouraged to walk. Because it is stroller-friendly, this idea is great for younger children and families. To get the whole family involved, encourage them to bring leashed pets along, too.
  • Fun run. Double the Donation defines a fun run fundraiser as “a type of peer-to-peer fundraiser in which participants sign up to run, collect pledges, and earn donations for each mile (or other specified unit of distance) they run.” Your team will need to choose a route, date, and time as well as a fun theme. For example, you might choose an 80s theme and encourage runners to dress up in athletic attire inspired by the decade.
  • 10K or half marathon. A longer, more intense race is best for experienced runners and older students (i.e., those in high school). To get more community involvement in your race, make sure to advertise it using posters or flyers inside local business establishments. Additionally, your team could partner with nonprofits in your area to leverage both supporter bases. 

There are no hard and fast rules around who can participate in which type of race. For example,  your high school cheerleading squad might prefer a walk-a-thon to a 10K. The most important thing to consider is whether your team members and supporters would enjoy and engage with the fundraiser.

2. Picnic or Barbecue 

When you imagine the perfect summer evening, what comes to mind? For many, it’s backyard barbecues, ice cream, and lemonade. Your team can take advantage of the nostalgia and comfort of a picnic or barbecue for its next fundraiser.

When planning one of these events, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a date, time, and venue (e.g., a local park, picnic pavilion, or school playground).
  2. Determine how you will fundraise, either by charging for entry or per food item.
  3. Decide whether your team will host a potluck-style or catered event.
  4. Start marketing your event using digital channels as well as printed promotional materials like flyers.
  5. Purchase plenty of supplies, like plates, cutlery, cups, tablecloths, blankets, and, of course, food.
  6. Set up enough blankets and tables for all of your guests.
  7. Host the event and have fun!

If your team decides to prepare food onsite or in advance, be sure to strictly follow all food safety guidelines. Make sure to have coolers and ice available to keep food at the proper temperatures, and ensure all foods are cooked thoroughly to keep your guests safe.

3. Sports-Themed Fundraisers

If your group is a sports team, you already have a built-in, cohesive theme to follow for your fundraisers. Your supporter base will already be familiar with the sport, and they’ve shown that they are interested in supporting your team financially by purchasing merchandise or tickets to games.

Let’s say you coach a high school soccer team. 99Pledges’ guide to soccer fundraising ideas recommends organizing soccer lessons that benefit the team. So, your team puts together a weeklong camp at which younger players can pay to get soccer lessons from the older high school players.

There are many other ways to incorporate the sports theme into your fundraiser, even if you don’t want to center the entire event around your sport. For example, if you hold an outdoor bake sale in tandem with a summer carnival, you could sell soccer-themed cookies and other treats. Your team’s sport can play as big or small a role in the fundraiser as you like, but it can be a helpful reminder to show what donors are supporting.

While choosing to hold your fundraiser outside can introduce new challenges, it will make for an engaging, unique experience that your supporters will remember for years to come. No matter which event you choose, remember to always have a backup plan, whether that’s a secondary location or an alternative date. And finally, make sure that your participants, donors, and volunteers know you appreciate them and their hard work.

Healthcare Data Cleansing: Frequently Asked Questions

Did you know that every patient generates millions of detailed records in real-time? That’s a lot of data to collect, store, and make comprehensible. Not to mention, healthcare organizations must take special care to adhere to regulatory requirements across several different data types.

That’s where healthcare data cleansing comes in. This necessary process keeps healthcare data sets from becoming unusable which can have severe consequences. In this guide, we’ll explore data cleansing in depth by answering the following questions:

  • What is healthcare data cleansing? 
  • What causes dirty data?
  • What are the benefits of healthcare data cleansing?
  • How can healthcare organizations maintain proper data hygiene? 

Keep in mind that healthcare data cleansing requires a robust data platform that can either be built in-house by a team of analysts and data scientists or bought through a vendor. Whichever solution your team chooses, it will need to be scalable to keep up with an increase in data over time. With this in mind, let’s explore data cleansing in greater detail. 

What is healthcare data cleansing?

Healthcare data cleansing, also called healthcare data scrubbing or cleaning, is an essential part of data hygiene and refers to the process of identifying and rectifying errors within a healthcare data set. This data set is integrated from a variety of sources such as EHRs, claims systems, lab systems, and administrative databases stored within a centralized healthcare data warehouse.

How often your organization cleans its data set is dependent on several factors, including:

  • The size of your organization
  • The volume of data collected 
  • The speed at which data is collected 
  • The associated regulatory and compliance requirements
  • The desired outcomes of your collected data 

Healthcare organizations must regularly clean their data to maintain quality standards. The frequency of data cleansing will be determined by the data quality controls put in place within your existing workflows. 

What causes dirty healthcare data?

Dirty healthcare data is caused by a variety of factors that can quickly add up and cause severe system roadblocks. These factors include:

  • Duplicate data: Because data is inputted from several sources, it can be easy to incur data duplications. This slows down your data reporting and analysis processes and makes it difficult to draw meaningful insights. 
  • Inaccurate data: Data reporting errors from patients or providers can invalidate your data set and cause lasting issues that may take significant time to resolve. 
  • Incomplete data: Omissions, forgotten updates, and missing data all prevent a full patient picture which could lead to workplace inefficiencies at best and inaccurate patient diagnoses and treatments at worst. 

In a system as large as healthcare, data collection errors are bound to happen. To prevent them ahead of time, create standardized rules for accurate data entry and task team members to audit your database on a regular basis to locate errors.

What are the benefits of healthcare data cleansing? 

A clean data set can work wonders for your organization. In fact, the benefits of healthcare data cleansing can be tracked across several key measures: 

  • Operational and cost efficiency: A clean data set saves both operational time and money. This means that your team will spend less time sifting through incomplete data while maximizing your resources. 
  • Data storage efficiency: Most data is stored within a healthcare data warehouse and must undergo substantial cleaning efforts to transform from raw data to usable data. Quality measures ensure that your organization has access to a structured, organized healthcare data warehouse. 
  • Data analytics accuracy: Analytics tools help your organization visualize health outcomes which include risk adjustment analysis, population health management, and patient engagement among others. Clean data keeps these analytic reports accurate and up to date.  
  • Improved patient outcomes: Because each data point represents an individual patient, a clean data set provides the chance to improve patient outcomes at a quicker rate. Which means providers can access the right information and the right time.
  • Enhanced billing processes: Correct data streamlines the payor and patient billing process and prevents unnecessary costs. In turn, your organization can better approach financial reporting. 

The bottom line: A clean healthcare data set is essential for data-backed decision-making. With comprehensive data quality measures in place, your organization can see measurable growth across major stakeholders. 

How can healthcare organizations maintain proper data hygiene?

On the ground level, healthcare data cleansing can be understood as a series of steps or ordered processes. These steps include: 

  1. Validation: Your data must be validated for accuracy, completeness, and consistency during this initial data cleansing phase. Data analysts identify and remove discrepancies and duplications to ensure data accuracy.
  1. Standardization: Once data discrepancies are eliminated or appropriately evaluated, data analysts must standardize data formats so that they match. For instance, an analyst must ensure that a patient with a recently changed last name is accurately represented.
  1. Error Correction: Data professionals must detect and correct any remaining inconsistencies. This process may include outlier detection, data profiling, and other methods to resolve inaccuracies. 
  1. Completeness verification: Incomplete data is assessed and missing values are accounted for and properly documented using appropriate methods.
  1. Integration: Data is then consolidated or integrated from several sources into one data set (while adhering to privacy laws) also known as a healthcare data warehouse. Then, the usable data can be extracted for meaningful analysis. 
  1. Review and monitoring: Data is reviewed and monitored on a regular basis to ensure quality and accuracy measures are sufficiently met. Data audits, quality assurance checks, and external data validation are all a part of this process. 

Because this process can be involved, many organizations turn to healthcare data professionals to outsource their data collection, cleaning, and analysis. Often, data scientists and analysts are forced to write elaborate queries for unstable and untrustworthy databases, but data platforms like Arcadia Foundry can simplify several data collection and analysis processes. 

These platforms are built for analysts by analysts and are consistently enriched with clean, quality data, so organizations don’t have to rely on their own cleansing and standardization processes to extract meaningful insights. 

Maintaining an accurate, usable healthcare data set requires consistent data cleansing. If your organization decides to perform its own data cleansing be sure to follow the outlined best practices for quality assurance. If your organization decides to outsource its data cleansing to a vendor, make sure they offer comprehensive and reliable services. 

About the Author: Nick Stepro

Nick Stepro is the Chief Product Officer at Arcadia, where he leads the design of the next wave of advanced healthcare analytics applications — including Arcadia Analytics, which has been praised as having one of the best user interfaces in the industry. He has worked with large health systems and payers to design and execute on innovative clinical integration and business intelligence strategies to drive improved health outcomes and reduced system costs.
Nick believes in good design and data visualization. When combined with focused expertise in analytics, healthcare and business process, the results are intuitive data-driven applications that empower users to dramatically improve the way they run their businesses. His data visualization work has been covered on NPR, U.S. News and World Report, Medical Ethics Advisor, and elsewhere. Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review recently named him one of “31 Health IT and Revenue Cycle Whiz Kids” to watch. He has spoken at Medcity CONVERGE, AMIA, and HIMSS and has been a guest lecturer on data visualization at Georgia Tech. In December 2016, he was the closing speaker at the CCO Oregon Cost of Care conference.

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