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Don't Dread Data-Driven Decision Making

Nonprofits are chaos.

Children run through the halls, 23 animals are in dire need of rescue, someone in the waiting room is suffering a panic attack, a family whose home was destroyed in a fire last night needs shelter and food and clothes and a whole lotta love.

Everything else stops, and you, the superheroes of our world, spring into action!

This is what nonprofits are made for. Soul-filling, world-changing, humanity-affirming chaos. But, still, chaos.

So when a consultant like us calls from our quiet little office and asks you to make “data-driven decisions” in the midst of that chaos, you shudder. We get it. With everything else you need to manage, it’s almost an insult to think you have time to quantify your work.

Ghost Writer was born from nonprofit chaos. We have been in your shoes.

We're here with good news.

First, let us be clear, we know you know what is going on in your community. Nonprofit leaders know about changes and trends far before they show on graphs. If there is a spike in refugees from Nepal or a rabies outbreak in feral cat colonies or a sudden need for size three diapers, nonprofits will know first. So, why collect data on what you already know?

Because what you know is valuable and should be shared. Data helps paint the picture for funders, your board, and other agencies and nonprofits across your community to “connect the dots” and solve for the bigger issue. How will you justify an increase in vet fees to your auditor and finance committee? How much more urgent is saying “diaper usage increased by 350%” rather than “we need more diapers.”

Sometimes, you even learn things. That is why data, even during chaos, is worth collecting. Utilizing various data collection tools helps evaluate and realign services, often in real-time. Weekly zip code counts might point to a drop in foodbank visits from a certain area in town. Follow-up surveys, even informal ones, might lead to understanding the local bus stopped serving that area. Armed with that knowledge, you can address the real issue - lack of transportation - rather than assuming neighbors in that area no longer need access to food.

The second piece of good news is that data collection doesn’t have to be difficult. Well-designed collection tools are created in tandem with program staff, within the existing procedures, are thoughtful in purpose, and prioritize simplicity and user-friendliness. Read our blog to learn more about effective, simple, survey design, and keep watching our social media, newsletter, and blog for more realistic and effective data tools.

Want to talk it out? Email or call us at 866-446-7843 today



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