2020 Series: Using Data to Drive Collaboration

By Kim Lynes

Major events cause significant stress to the community and can often trigger multi-sectoral collaboration work. Why? The work to provide the necessary services and relief to constituents in need is too great for a single person or organization to solve. We have seen a range of events in recent years, with the pandemic in 2020 and record-breaking natural disasters affecting the West with wildfires and the Southeast with hurricanes. 

 

A bright light amidst the chaos that comes with these life-changing events is the collaboration and sharing of resources among diverse groups of local stakeholders. With the use of public data and historical data from different organizations, it has been impressive to see the level of response and measurable impact achieved in communities. Collaboration has spread across sectors - with players from the public, private and social sectors committing to progress toward positive outcomes. Though we may still be facing these challenges, there is an intentional path for how we can meet our goals, together.

 

This idea of using data to drive collaboration, identifying new ways to partner with other organizations in the community or within areas of focus, is one where UpMetrics anticipates growth in the upcoming year. Increased knowledge across stakeholders can result in accelerated progress toward outcomes. The sharing of data opens the door to overall program optimizations and answers questions around overall impact. The result of this open collaboration is that impact organizations receive the resources needed to achieve their goals. 

 

Many leaders in the philanthropic space are embracing the role of information sharing and capacity building. For nonprofits to be active players in these conversations around collaboration and impact, they need the tools to collect, analyze and share the data. The reward for a foundation investing in the supply of these tools is great - they receive a comprehensive view of the overall impact of all of their funded programs. This can inform long-term strategy as well as day-to-day optimizations as they track overall progress toward goals. 

 

The cohort model has been discussed often over the last decade. The title of a piece in SSIR called out back in 2011: “Cohort Capacity Building: Is the Sector Ready?”. In the article, the author does not debate the value of the cohort model - including its ability to provide nonprofit leaders with new information and ways to solve problems - but rather the urgency of moving past the preparation of executing such a model and, well, executing it. Today, as we elevate impact measurement to move beyond a single point in time, using data to inform decision-making across the organization, the urgency is there to have access to as much information and resources as possible. 

 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is one such organization that committed to the cohort model in 2020. Leadership is excited to build the capacity of nonprofits across Louisiana, providing their grantees access to the UpMetrics platform. With this tool grantees can collect and analyze data to drive their mission forward, in addition to reporting on their progress. Data can empower a shift toward “trust-based philanthropy” which will remove the historical burden of reporting for the nonprofit and strengthen the relationship between BCBS of Louisiana Foundation and its grantees. The qualitative and quantitative data BCBS of Louisiana Foundation receives from its grantees will also provide a data-driven guide for what can be achieved with a collaborative effort across these grantees long-term.

 

Foglia Family Foundation in Chicago is also empowering their grantees to define success with the support of the UpMetrics data analytics tool as they believe it will make these organizations more sustainable in the long run. This approach looks beyond immediate financial support and to long-term strategic development driven by data. Foglia Family Foundation formed their grantees into a Community Impact Portfolio, and then grouped by themes in certain geographic areas. 

 

The Fight for Children Institute is a final example of 17 nonprofits that formed a youth sports collaborative to provide responsive grants and capacity building services. Members can collaborate and learn best practices, all while maximizing their impact in their communities. By creating a more formalized group, FFC has the opportunity to create project goals across the organization, aligning the work of each member. It is also imperative to remember not every organization that you work with has the same access to tools, current data, or framework around impact analysis. UpMetrics worked with each member organization to do a needs assessment so they can receive the level of support that they need, not what might be needed by a peer organization. FFC is also using public data to inform their collaborative efforts - ensuring the goals they set will drive positive impact in their local communities where they need it most.

 

This approach in communities across the United States will make for a stronger, more equipped group of impact organizations that can work together to meet needs of the community, new and old. With the cohort model nonprofits will receive the support needed to drive impact in their programs and areas of expertise. 

 

 

Other Posts in the 2020 Series:

Creating a New Path and Learning as We Go

The Importance of Context

How Real-Time Access to Data is Transforming Communications

Committing to DEI Metrics


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