In February I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend and colleague Jessica Mindnich on a webinar that focused on the importance of shifting the funder-grantee relationship toward one that encourages continuous knowledge sharing between parties. This is a topic close to my heart as well as Jessica’s, who is the Senior Director of Evaluation, Learning and Impact Stories at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The truth is that trust-based relationships that prioritize collaboration and transparency are the only way we will be able to move the needle on some of the social issues that philanthropy, and the greater public, are looking to take on.
What an inspiring #PEAKOnline2021conference. Congratulations to the PEAK board and host committee and especially to Satonya Fair whose leadership was embedded throughout every session and every conversation. Satonya has unleashed the PEAK community who dove deep on topics and brought PEAK’s many new members into the excitement. It was particularly inspiring to learn about the different ways the PEAK members are working to support their grant partners and the way they are championing to approach their work with an equity lens at their foundations.
Trust is a key pillar of philanthropy. Donors trust that nonprofit organizations will responsibly use their funds to inspire positive change in the areas they’ve detailed in fundraising communications. Communities trust that local philanthropic organizations will have their back when hit by the unexpected, and therefore offer their support. Trust is crucially important when building strong relationships - an easy connection for most in the sector to make since much of philanthropy is built on relationships. But trust offers more power than you might have realized - in the Edelman Brand Trust in 2020 report, it is reported that in today’s world, trust is the number two reason people buy something (after price). That’s before other attributes like quality, performance and how easy the item is to find. To influence behavior and drive action, organizations across the private, public and social sectors need to prioritize the creation of trust.
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.
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:
The concept of digital transformation is not new in philanthropy. It is necessary to have a digital strategy to meet stakeholder expectations (and often requirements) around data collection and reporting. What we saw in 2020 was a shift in how we view this data. It is no longer enough to simply track and evaluate one’s data once or twice a year. This year demanded that impact organizations take an active stance to collecting and analyzing data, pivoting as events trigger unexpected areas of need or when data has identified areas of optimization for existing programs.