Whenever we meet with potential clients across the social sector and the subject of data comes up, we are inevitably faced with one of two realities. The first, and most common, is that our partners have a lot of data but it lives in disparate systems making it very difficult for them to use this information to drive decision making. In this instance, we work with our partners to centralize their data into the UpMetrics platform so they can start to analyze and learn from this information. The other potential reality is that our partners have data gaps, and need help thinking through how to efficiently fill those gaps so they can effectively understand and report their impact. Luckily the UpMetrics platform can be helpful in this scenario as well. Here are three ways that the UpMetrics platform can help your organization address and fill data gaps. 


  1. Mobile-friendly Surveys
    The fastest way to fill gaps in data and access important stakeholder information is to deploy surveys to constituents. In the event you have a survey tool in place, we are happy to work with those existing systems - we have a number of third party integrations, including SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics, making it easy to collect data into the platform. If your organization has not yet invested in a survey tool, the UpMetrics data collector tool is mobile-friendly, making it easy to collect data from those in the field or with limited access to the internet. You also have the capability to visualize survey responses in real-time. 

    One example of an UpMetrics client using the data collector tool is a silicon-valley based VC firm. The venture capital firm is using the data collector to collect diversity data across their portfolio companies. This effort allows them to remove burdensome reporting flows on behalf of their portfolio companies. It also creates systems that make data accessible, a crucial differentiator for organizations that use their data to look at year-over-year trends and identify areas of opportunity, as opposed to keeping data in the form of annual, static reports. In addition, shareable dashboards automatically update to reflect current survey responses, providing all stakeholders access to critical information that they can use to take action.

  2. Publicly-available data

    In the event you are looking to add context to your data, the UpMetrics team has built a robust library of publicly available data which allows our partners to understand the larger picture of the communities that they serve and inform decisions around resource allocation. The library includes public census data, economic data, and population data amongst other data sets. This information can help benchmark your data and tell a more complete story around the efforts to create positive change. Make connections with the available public data, identifying underlying drivers or conditions that are resulting in the current situation you’re working to improve. This added layer of contextual information supports your ability to understand the root causes of an issue and build a comprehensive strategy that will accelerate progress toward impact.

    As an example, UpMetrics is working with the Schultz Family Foundation to help them collect and analyze data from grantees focused on food access and insecurity. In addition to reporting from the grantees, the Foundation is also looking at data from Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap, which shows food insecurity across the U.S. UpMetrics overlaid the Schultz Family Foundation grantees with the Feeding America data set to show where they have been the most active in their response to food access and where needs continue to persist.

  3. Qualitative data capture

While quantitative data is essential when it comes to impact measurement and reporting, we know that numbers can’t tell the whole story. Qualitative data provides important insights and contextual information that not only helps us understand the underlying quantitative data, but also helps to motivate action to drive positive change. A common challenge we hear from clients is the difficulty of collecting this qualitative data, especially when in-person events are on hold. With this in mind, we have focused on making it easier for partners to capture and organize qualitative data in the platform.


We do this in three main ways. First, all of our clients are assigned a unique email address, which allows users to email content such as written testimonials or attachments (like images or videos). These emails automatically generate stories in the platform, which can be quickly accessed for a board meeting, social post or more. Second, we have made it easy to save web articles and links relevant to your organization’s mission using a browser extension or bookmarklet. Anything that reinforces the work you’re doing can be beneficial to reference in future conversations with donors, volunteers, and others. Third, you can generate stories via the data collector by creating open-ended survey questions which will automatically capture responses in the form of stories. Once collected, stories can be organized into collections according to themes or focus areas. As an example, a funder may want to create a collection for stories which capture all of your grantees’ COVID response efforts. Focusing a story or communication around a central theme will make it much easier for your audience to grasp the information and retain the key ideas to share with others. 


The qualitative data feature resonates with nonprofits, funders, and investors alike as we find that all of our clients need tools to capture and ultimately marry quantitative and qualitative data together. Whether you are a nonprofit trying to share meaningful testimonials with your donors or an impact fund manager that is trying to report back relevant updates from portfolio companies to LPs, the UpMetrics platform makes it easy to do this as a part of your already existing daily tasks. 


As an example, our work with the Ford Foundation is focused entirely around capturing and analyzing qualitative data aligned to their strategic objectives across several geographies and programs (China, Mexico, Kenya, Brazil, and the "Future of Workers"). The UpMetrics platform allows Ford to utilize a consistent global framework to gauge impact over the short, medium and long term. By collecting this data, the Ford team is looking to determine "whether change is happening in expected ways, how Ford has contributed to making a difference, and what they need to adjust in order to be more impactful." Data will ultimately be shared with global stakeholders including program teams, board members, and community leaders.


Everyone has gaps in data - the key is having the insight to identify those gaps and fill them. Without a full view of what is happening - what’s working and what isn’t - it will be challenging to effectively track toward your desired impact. By connecting the dots you’ll achieve the clarity and focus needed to prioritize action items and identify the resources you’ll need to reach your goals.

Post by Maureen Coleman
April 23, 2021