The Quest for a Nimble Data System

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

Data: the answer to my prayers and the bane of my existence. Data can guide strategy and overwhelm you to the point of inaction. If you don’t have the systems in place to mine and analyze it, all that wonderful, insightful information becomes as useful as pretty much everything Amazon had on sale for Prime Day.

Every minute, there is a ridiculous amount of new data being created—from social media posts to emails to videos and photos. I can see the breadth of the data I have access to for my organization. I know there are answers in there that will establish efficiencies and reduce expenses—in the end, making us better at what we do and allowing us to solve big problems.

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If you’re new to data, I would recommend the Getting Started With Data-Driven Decision Making: A Workbook that NTEN and Idealware created. This tool helps you cut through all of the information coming at you and helps focus your priorities into four main areas:

  • Collecting and understanding outcomes data
  • Strategies for collecting high-quality data
  • Combining metrics to tell the story of your organization’s programs
  • How to make that story relevant to different stakeholders.

In case you need a little inspiration to keep moving forward in solving your data management challenges, here’s a great recent Connect post by Oz du Soleil.

Maybe you’re organization is in the same place I am on the data management journey. We are great at collecting data. We know our click-through rates, open rates, and bounce rates. Our surveys are complete and identify impact and areas for expansion. We’re tracking our time on different initiatives and programs. We can show how we are helping our constituency and our greater community. We can tell a story.

However, for better or for worse, we don’t have a cohesive place, system, or process to house all of this information so it is easily accessible and nimble. That, to me, is the next mountain to climb, and I believe we can improve what we do and how we do it without it obliterating a budget.

That is why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend the Leading Change Summit. This conference is about me—and you—and even what we could do together. I have a good feeling that my fellow attendees will understand this data dilemma. Hopefully, if you are trying to solve these same global data problems or you have ideas, you’ll join me to brainstorm the possibilities.

It’s this idea of collaboration in strategic planning that has me most excited. When nonprofit leaders and changemakers get together in one room, big things can happen: Ideas, shared learning, partnerships – the opportunities are endless. LCS facilitates attendees towards solutions, before, during, and after the Summit.

Marisa Taylor
Director of Philanthropy
Marisa Taylor joined Local Food Hub as Director of Philanthropy in May 2015. She brings more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, and has a technical background and robust fundraising skill set to further the mission to partner with Virginia farmers to increase community access to local food. Marisa earned a B.S. in Information Technology from Western Governors University and a Certificate in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining Local Food Hub, Marisa held leadership roles with the Virginia Institute of Autism, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, and the World Adult Kickball Association.