This post was originally published here (Management Tips – The NonProfit Times)
Your nonprofit can’t become data savvy overnight. It takes time to build the infrastructure and a culture that asks the right questions, collects the right data, and uses the data to make smart decisions. You can chart your progress along these six stages of data maturity. Where does your nonprofit land and where would you like to go?
Stage 1: Collect Basic Data: You can’t be data-driven without data. At this stage you’re collecting basic information, but you don’t yet have a strategy for what to do with it, and it might not be very organized yet.
Stage 2: Systematically Collect Data: There’s intention behind your data collection. You’re regularly collecting information and organizing it systematically so that you can sort it and create reports.
Stage 3: Get Community Feedback: You realize it’s not ought to track basic information. You need to find out how your constituents or other community members feel about your programs. You begin conducting surveys to get feedback on how your nonprofit is doing.
Stage 4: Act On What You Learn: You’re responding to feedback and making adjustments to your programs. You’re also noticing patterns in your data and are coming up with ways to address what you’re seeing.
Stage 5: Establish Goals And Capture Trends: Look at your data and see whether your changes are making a difference. Use the data to think about what you want to accomplish and set specific goals for your programs based on the numbers. For example, if your afterschool program gets 70 percent attendance (up from 60 percent last year), maybe you make next year’s goal 80 or even 90 percent.
Stage 6: Make Data-Driven Decisions: Data is part of your day-to-day work and every decision process. You move from small-scale to large-scale applications of data, using it to evaluate success on organization-wide issues.