Unit4 joins the partner steering group in support of the Common Data Model for Nonprofits

Posted by  Jeroen Figee

The volume of data created, gathered and stored by people-centered and project-based nonprofit organizations today is staggering. But volume is useless if you can’t access the right information, analyze it, and put it to good use. Without the right governance (and the technology to underpin it), the speed of data creation will far exceed our ability to do this.

I’m excited to report that we’re working to adopt the Common Data Model (CDM) for nonprofit organizations. This is a model that has been defined in collaboration between Microsoft, the nonprofit sector, and NetHope members. It is a standardized definition of a data model, including all objects and attributes for the sector that is the first built specifically with and for the nonprofit sector. It includes direct input from many of the world’s leading nonprofits, institutional donors and private foundations including International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, SOS Children’s Villages, Ballmer Group, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

With the wide variety of software solutions necessary in any nonprofit organization, interoperability is one of the most crucial aspects of system architecture. With the CDM, this will be highly improved since all partner solutions comply to the same data model. This unprecedented step for the sector encourages interoperability across platforms and helps nonprofits share data and work seamlessly across solutions. It also reduces costs because implementations and integrations are more easily completed.

In January, Microsoft initiated the first Tech for Social Impact partner steering group meeting held in New York City. Together with other partners supporting and contributing to the CDM, we have aligned our approach and engagement to contribute to the further development and adaptation of the model. All initiative partners, including Avanade, M-hance, MissionCRM, SoapBox Engage, Fluxx, StratusLive, Threshold.world, Quantiq and Wipfli are committed to compliance with the CDM in the development of our products to ease interoperability for our customers. We are adapting our Unit4 ERP solution for nonprofits to be CDM compliant too. It will help our customers to be truly data-driven in their strategic decision making so they can deliver more impact, transparency and accountability through greater visibility and control over project plans, schedules, costs and budgets.

The Common Data Model has been made publicly available on Github for software vendors and organizations to use. We’re working in partnership with our customers and the nonprofit ecosystem to help them move from being just tech-enabled to truly data-driven, connected, automated and ultimately able to harness the power of digital in the delivery of their missions.

Jeroen Figee

Unit4 Senior Solution Manager for Nonprofit