Don't just count it, use it


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.

Innovation and Impact Forum

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement that the Open Sociaty Foundation hosted in New York City. Hundreds of funders, practitioners, goverment officials, and academics came together and talked about what is working to strengthen Black men and boys in the United States. Too often we focus on the challenges but it is nice to be able to spend time celebrating what is going right.

The Headwaters Foundation for Justice has been the host of the African American Leadership Forum for the last few years and it is great to see that the success of that work isn’t an abberation but that is part of a larger movement across the country to support successful outcomes for African Americans. Below is a link for a panel from the conference.

What Winning Looks Like in Black Male Achievement from Open Society Foundations on

Bringing Foundations into the 21st Century

My former foundation is doing a survey on what web tools donors use when they give. I think it is wonderful that they are asking donors what they want instead of building a tool and then hoping that everyone will line up to use it. It's also great that the survey is a partnership between multiple community foundations. Please take a few minutes to fill it out. It is a great opportunity to help foundations begin to use cutting edge tools to connect with donors in new ways. From the Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations: Social media and e-philanthropy are changing what donors want and expect from nonprofits. Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation are partnering with community foundations in Columbus and San Francisco to sponsor joint research to learn directly from donors about what web tools they may use for charitable purposes.

As part of this effort, they want to survey as many people as possible who are already givers to nonprofit organizations. I hope that you will take a few minutes to complete the survey attached below. They will not collect e-mails and all responses will be anonymous.

Thank you for your time to complete this!