Good ideas and intentions are not enough to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Many early-stage organizations fail because they lack the tools they need to grow—especially when it comes to collecting data and measuring impact. Data is essential for nonprofit scaling because it not only attracts funders but also allows organizations to prove and improve on their mission.
In this recording from our 2018 Data on Purpose conference, Kathleen Kelly Janus, a social entrepreneur, Stanford lecturer, and author of Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference, shares insights on the strategies organizations need to succeed. As Janus writes, 75 percent of organizations report that they collect data, yet only 6 percent feel they use it effectively. Data is only as good as an organization’s ability to use it.
Janus argues that the nonprofit sector as a whole has a responsibility to help organizations improve in this regard. To do this, funders must end the “nonprofit starvation cycle” by supporting data collection. And nonprofits must focus their data collection on long-term outcomes and instill the importance of data collection within their staff and organizational culture. Not every outcome can be measured, but every nonprofit can find metrics that fit its services and goals.