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.

So you're on a panel, what are you going to wear?


It is fall conference season and that means many of you will be attending conferences in full force both on the stage and in the audience. If you will be speaking at a conference, remember that your appearance often speaks louder than your words. Here is some advice about how to look your best:

1) What is your role? Are you a program associate or a CEO? Are you representing an established organization or are you with a start up? Knowing your role helps you determine what look you should project.

2) Audience Will there be 10 people in the room or 500. Knowing the audience size helps you pick an outfit that helps you stand out but not overwhelm.

3) Logistics Will you sitting in tall chairs or standing behind a podium. Figuring this out before will ensure that you don’t wear a pencil skirt and have to try to jump into a tall chair or non-matching socks that show as soon as you cross your legs (I’ve seen both, by the way).

4) Colors Find out what the backdrop looks like (ask your friend that’s on the planning committee). Try to make sure that you don’t clash with the colors that they are using.

5) Be comfortable Speaking at a conference is not the time to try new clothes. The last thing you need is shoes pinching or a shirt with buttons that come undone. Wear something that you know feels good and that makes you feel great. Uncomfortable clothes can make you look awkward and people are less likely to listen to what you are saying if you are spending the whole presentation adjusting your collar.

For great advice on professional clothing choices, check out the Corporate Fashionista Blog.