2020 Series: Creating a New Path and Learning as We Go
2020 saw a lot of unexpected circumstances that impact organizations could not anticipate, and for which there was no baseline or best practice to follow as the public looked for leadership from many of these organizations.
A theme that arose for which we applaud many organizations is stepping forward and being proactive about thinking of solutions. Though there may not have been an abundance of data to utilize as a baseline, organizations built a strategy based on what they did know and equipped themselves with resources to track progress and pivot as needed.
Where several UpMetrics partners started is where any organization looking to measure their impact with data begins: goals. The process of asking specific questions across your organization achieves many things: it takes stock of where you are today, gets everyone on the same page for where you’d like to go, and pools current knowledge (which may be anecdotal). Certainly in unprecedented times the latter is crucial given limited access to quantitative data.
From the answers to these questions, your impact organization can set goals. A good idea in times of uncertainty, when your organization is beginning a new program or unexpected if events like a pandemic or historic wildfires impact your area, is to set smaller goals that bubble up to the desired outcome that you’ve identified. This allows you to pivot as you learn, and share your learnings with a greater population who may also be looking for direction.
De La Salle High School is one such organization that saw a need to take action as COVID-19 threatened our traditional ways of schooling across the country. The high school is a pillar in Chicago, and faced similar challenges as other schools across the country with COVID inhibiting in-person learning opportunities. At this Chicago educational institution, new leadership looked to data that supports the benefits of in-person learning, and based on this information wanted to move forward mixing in-person learning with remote. There was no precedent for this kind of a roll out amidst a pandemic at the school, or even in the Chicago-area, but their new principal, Tom Schergen, knew it was the ideal path forward to do what was best for students.
To start, the high school utilized a mobile screening tool in the UpMetrics platform for anyone entering the high school building. Over 900 staff and students utilized the screening tool regularly, self-screening to acknowledge that they did/did not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. If they did note symptoms, they were not allowed access to the building. Using such a screening tool allowed school leadership to better protect students and staff, and monitor how COVID-19 cases were impacting the school community.
After examining screening data in the UpMetrics platform, school leadership decided that layering in public data with the school’s screening data would further support sound decision-making moving forward, allowing them to better keep staff and students safe. With the screening data from the school and public data on COVID-19 cases in the Chicago-area, school leadership is best equipped to protect students while ensuring they are enjoying the benefits of a high school education. They are also better informed to make decisions for the future - all because the high school took the initiative to create a solution to a problem schools around the world are encountering.
Other types of impact organizations are also stepping up to help their local communities - altering their planned funding mix for the year to support vulnerable populations that need help. The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is a great example of an impact organization that reallocated planned funding, prioritizing their resources toward communities that were most affected by circumstances related to COVID-19. They used historical data to identify local partners that were best equipped to distribute resources on the ground, ensuring the funds went to the populations that LADF identified with their data.
The Atlanta Braves Foundation also pivoted - utilizing their resources to build new programs that feed front-line workers and support local restaurants. Both of these organizations, DeLaSalle High School, and many others saw their communities in need and took action. Each set different goals for their impact based on available data and resources, and pivoted accordingly to ensure their efforts are tracking toward the achievement of these goals. As Nichol Whiteman, CEO of LADF, recently highlighted on a panel around collective impact:
“We are a part of the solution facing our Angelenos. We are leveraging our partnerships we created before the pandemic and continue to add partners to help us be even more impactful. People can not avoid the significant need and dire state of our city.”
This act of leadership is what we need from our community leaders, and a trend that can and will continue into 2021. Crucial to the ability of these organizations to be able to pivot and achieve impact in new areas with minimal historical data is access to tools and resources. Whether it be in a spreadsheet or a reporting and analytics tool like UpMetrics, it is imperative that impact organizations begin to centralize and track their own data as well as public data. It is only with this awareness that we will be equipped to tackle new challenges in our communities and identify new solutions to new problems.
Insight into the current needs of your community and whether your efforts are impacting desired populations can also fuel greater transparency and collaboration between your organization and your board, community partners, and constituents. Learn more about the second theme UpMetrics is highlighting from 2020: using data to drive collaboration.
Other posts in the 2020 Series: