For many foundation collecting data is a way of life. We ask grantees to tell us how many clients they served, how long they were involved with the client, which changes happened as a result of their services. We want budgets and projections and evaluation plans and the list goes on and on. But why? Do we use the data to inform our future grantmaking? Not nearly often enough. Do we track our own data on length of time to return an email or processes to streamline paperwork? Hardly ever. Data is a powerful tool but only if you use it to make change, otherwise it's just wasted effort.
NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network did a great study on how nonprofits collect data and what they use the data for (if anything). The study pushes for more data driven decision-making, which I think is a great thing for nonprofits and foundations. You can read the study here.