April is volunteer month, and before it comes to an end I wanted to take the opportunity to call out the importance of giving a voice to your volunteers and, by extension, your community. At UpMetrics, we often speak to the power of qualitative data. Numbers can only provide so much information – to translate those numbers into desired action, next steps, and a strategy that will impact the areas with the most need, you need qualitative data. Those on the ground can tell you whether they are seeing an impact of your efforts with the audience you intended, or if you’re indirectly solving for something else with your efforts.
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.
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.
Imagine you are doing a puzzle. You’re working on the top corner, perhaps a friend is piecing together the bottom border and their friend is tackling the always difficult middle area. While each person is responsible for their section, working independently, you’re all looking to achieve the same goal: completing the picture. Now, in my circle of friends it is hotly debated if you’re allowed to look at the box while assembling the puzzle, but we can all agree that it is infinitely easier to complete the puzzle when you can see that big picture. Not only do you then have a baseline of where you want to go, you can also check your progress along the way, making corrections if you’re trying to fit pieces in the wrong places.
Your organization has spent years collecting, inputting and storing data, ensuring you have your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed in terms of following best practices and requirements of data tracking and management. However, have you ever looked across your organization at the breadth and depth of the data you have, only to realize you’re not sure how to use all of this information? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. UpMetrics has been collaborating with many organizations like yours who are at a similar stage in their data journey. In order to get your data to work for you, to help guide your program, operations and overall strategy, there are a few key questions that you need to ask. In return you’ll have data with purpose that you can learn from, take action on and communicate out to your board, funders, or other partners. Here are a few questions to to guide you as you advance in your data maturity and start to get your data to work for you: