What Can the Numbers Tell Us?

February 28, 2019
To collect data or not to collect data? Forbes tells us there’s no question; data is key in nonprofit management. What we do have to ask is how we can use good data to do more good in our communities. As you think about how that affects your organization here are three questions to get you going:

1. What kind of data do we collect?
2. How do we analyze the data?
3. How do we use the data to further our organization’s mission?


Many times people hear the word “data” and immediately think “metrics”.  Quantitative information – the numbers – does play a key role in the way we track performance. The trick is to couple it with qualitative data – the stories –  as a way to paint the complete picture of an organization: where we have been, where we are currently, and where we hope to go.

As we gather numbers and stories, it’s important to commit to looking at everything from blog clicks to seeds in the ground to event attendance to trainings provided to hot meals delivered. By examining the data holistically, we see the true breadth of our organization’s effectiveness. Once the data has been collected it’s time to use it to develop a framework for organizational success.

Think about this: the folks at Stanford’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship report that 75% of nonprofits collect data, but only 6% think they use it effectively. If that describes you, or if you’re ready to develop a successful data-based framework then please join us at CNE on on March 26 as we explore Tools for Measuring Program Success.

© Center for Nonprofit Excellence 2019

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