3 Data Culture Must-Have’s

August 15. 2023

Maryfrances Porter

I worked with an organization which wanted to be dedicated to collecting and using data. But, data was only seen as a fundraising tool, so they didn’t create a positive data culture.

As a result, the organization worked for the data – rather than the data working for the organization. Data was minded for one purpose only: to support the fundraising story.

This meant lot’s of time was wasted because lot’s of data weren’t used. There wasn’t time set aside to be curious about the data. Data entry and understanding were approached like burdensome tasks – rather than an opportunity.
In order to create a positive data culture, an organization must have the following 3 things:


#1 – Leadership from the Top
For a data culture to develop and flourish, both the Board and the Executive Director must be 100% on board. This allows the needed time and money to be set aside.

Data is very important to fundraising – but it’s way more important for program improvement and as a component of an equity plan.

#2 – Engage Multiple Perspectives

If I am the only one engaged in understanding what the data mean, then the data only mean what I think they do. I’m limited by my own experience and perspective.

Creating an Insight and Learning Team with between 3 and 5 members allows the data to be fully understood. The Team may include the Executive Director, maybe a Board member, the Data Manager, a Program Supervisor, the Marketing and/or Development Director – AND – a direct service provider to past client. (I know, for small nonprofits, all these roles might be held by just three people!)

A diverse Team creates healthy discussion, deeper understanding of the data, and the ability to use the data day-to-day.

#3 – A Growth Mindset

The Insight and Learning Team, however, won’t get far unless they are encouraged to be strengths-based and curios.

Data can be used to evaluate and shame -or- it can be used to understand and grow. Disappointing data are your map to the next priorities.

All guesses, questions, and ideas are encouraged. This is how you uncovered hidden meaning and how innovation happens.

Learn more in the ImpactStory Academy!

Partnerships for Strategic Impact

At Partnerships for Strategic Impact®, I have all the tools to build out the structures and strategies you need for collecting actionable impact data; I train staff in how to use them, analyze data, and make action steps for change; I teach you to tell powerful impact stories. My goal is your sustainability: I provide just the right amount of coaching and ongoing support to ensure success.

This is within reach. It’s not harder than managing your budget. Plus, you, your funders, and the people you serve deserve to know more about the value your organization delivers.

If you’re reading this, then you’re already part of my network. Schedule some time on my calendar. There’s no sales pitch and no obligation. Just curiosity and answering your questions. I am the seasoned program-evaluation, program-development, data-storytelling consultants you need, right in your back pocket. I am here to bring order to the process of figuring out how to track and use your impact story.

– Maryfrances

Your ImpactStory™ Coach

Want even more?

Check out my Blogs and Videos

Check out the Resource Library

Following #ImpactStoryCoaching on LinkedIn