UpMetrics Blog

Read the latest expert insights, trends, and best practices around impact measurement and leveraging actionable data to drive meaningful change.

We are at a crossroads in philanthropy, where access to data has increased in recent years but data capacity within impact organizations has not. As a result, only 50% of surveyed organizations are using the data available to them to inform their decision-making (Source). This fact presents a significant challenge to the ability of impact organizations to drive the level of positive change needed to tackle today’s complex issues.


Why? Because strategic decisions are being made without the context that data across sources can provide. It’s the difference between you ending up at your local Target or across the country because you looked up directions without filling in your location. When considering solutions to various challenges, across focus areas, impact organizations need the full picture to best prescribe a path that ends in progress toward goals.


For this reason, UpMetrics developed a white paper that would support all impact organizations, no matter where they are today in their data journey, to develop their ability to use their data to inform their actions. We looked to third parties from organizations like Technology Association of Grantmakers (TAG) and Urban Institute, to peers of yours like Pathways to Education Canada and the Black Equity Collective, all with the intention of creating a three-part guide that can inspire data-centric conversations across the sector.


How to Make Data Actionable begins with a frank description of where we sit today as a sector, and what we need to do to work together to solve today’s challenges. Technology leaders want to look to data to inform their decision-making, and they want to utilize a range of sources to gain insight. As Chantal Forster, Executive Director at TAG, states in the white paper: “Data instills confidence in your decisions by lending evidence to your impact strategy, identifies areas of improvement or opportunity, and opens the door for communication both internally and with external partners.” The challenge in our ability to take full advantage of the insights that data can provide is our inability to connect the dots across different data sources due to a data capacity problem. This could mean a lack of training, resources, or something else, but it all comes back to the idea that without the ability to integrate knowledge cross departments and organizations, we’ll be shorthanded.


Part one of the paper is focused on how organizations can take steps today to better equip their organization to act on their data, including the prioritization of knowledge sharing and transparency. Contributors Kathryn L.S. Pettit and Annie Rhodes also detail investments your impact organization can make in resources and training, as well as data analysis tools, so that you’re equipped to see how you’re doing across all activities, with different indicators. Finally, Mary Kopczynski Winkler reveals how best to maintain a commitment to data collection and analysis during turbulent times, and how data capacity can improve your ability to respond effectively in unprecedented situations.


Once you have your house in order, data is unparalleled in its ability to support your progress toward impact. We explore this relationship between data and action across four key areas in the second part of the paper: equity, collaboration, optimization and storytelling. Learn how data can support your journey toward a more equitable workplace, power more effective collaboration with shared KPIs and a foundation of trust, uncover underlying pain points that previously went unseen, and be a guide as you consider different social media platforms to inspire action through story,


Finally, the last piece of How to Make Data Actionable is committed to the stories of your peers. Learn how the Black Equity Collective, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership in Atlanta, the Association of Supply Chain Management and Spotify are layering data into every aspect of their decision-making, ultimately seeing a positive impact on the success of their programs.


We hope you utilize this information to ask questions, test new things, and start conversations with new internal and external partners. Data can and should inspire trust that you're following the optimal path toward change, not induce stress. Use this opportunity to set up a plan so your organization can take advantage of the confidence data can provide, using the information you have to create a meaningful narrative that inspires action.




Enter your email below to download the white paper now. Any questions on how to take action on some of the recommendations detailed in the paper? Reach out to us at solutions@upmetrics.com.


Kim Lynes
Post by Kim Lynes
April 23, 2021