Welcome to the Evaluate for Change’s Nonprofit Data-Driven Blog. We post a brand new blog every Tuesday. Features cover the intersection between evaluation and social sector topics. All blogs give our audience updates from the field and other crucial information. Our staff members and special guest bloggers will provide the knowledge and content needed to help you implement sound evaluation practices within your organization. You may request specific topics or content by emailing us at

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For a long time as an artist and arts administrator I feared data. Working with young people and adults making arts and evaluating the impact art can have in people’s life can be daunting. Outside the arts and cultural fields there is a tendency to think about the arts as disposable, or not important in comparison to other areas such as science and business. I strongly believe that arts and

Fear Not. Data Does Not Have to be Scary

Our May book club featured Sheri Chaney Jones, author of “Impact & Excellence.” A book which focuses on data-driven strategies for aligning mission, culture, and performance in nonprofit and government organizations. Sheri mentioned that though she never set out to be an author initially, her foray into publishing happened organically, and was borne out of the findings, and experiences she gathered while working with the Dept. of Ageing. The Dept.

Sheri Chaney Jones Author of Impact & Excellence

I recently attended an Evaluate for Change workshop called Taking the Fear out of Data. The workshop created space for reflecting on how to use evaluation processes to create a culture of learning in one’s organization and in the wider sector. The title of the workshop reflects Evaluate for Change’s belief that social sector professionals fear data. The workshop was about getting people comfortable with data and the idea of

Honoring the Humanity in the Data

Evaluation has a bad reputation for a reason. Sometimes assessment tools are used towards unjust ends—hello educational tests and tracking! Sometimes, folks solicit feedback and use that feedback in wonky ways. (Have you ever seen constructive criticism result in the eradication of a program? I have.) It’s no wonder that so many of us are burned out on surveys and focus groups, specifically, and skeptical of data, generally. Evaluation has

Working Towards Transformative Evaluation

Our team helps thousands of families each year stay housed, and each time they assist a family data is entered into our client tracking system. Information like family demographics, income, family size, zip code, services rendered, and more are tracked and recorded internally. As a member of the fundraising team, I often use this data in messages to donors and supporters to show off the amazing work our staff is

Data: Snapshots vs. Results

Those of us with a basic working knowledge of research methods probably remember the Tuskegee Study, in which 399 Black men were unknowingly withheld medical treatment in order to study the effects of syphilis. The study, done by the U.S. Public Health Service and Tuskegee Institute, lasted 40 years. Even after penicillin became a widely used and effective treatment for syphilis, the subjects were never treated, never informed about the

Data with a Social Justice Ethic

Sometime in 2015, I had the opportunity to serve as an Urban Decoder and Researcher for YouthfulCities. YouthfulCities is a global initiative to rank the world’s 100 cities from a youth perspective, thereby leading a unique urban regeneration in the process. The project focus sought to answer 3 major questions: what are the best cities in the world for young people to live, work and play? As simple as the

Data in Developing Countries

Working or volunteering on a board of directors for a nonprofit is a great way to give back to the community and make the world a better place. Today, more and more nonprofit organizations are entering the market and creating different types of programming ranging from direct services to advocacy. Through programming, nonprofits focus on advancing a cause, but the way in which they do that varies. It is not

Two Major Strategies That Help Strengthen Your Nonprofit

Let me be honest, I don’t have any pretenses of being an analyst.  I currently work as a social service worker and have had the privilege of working with individuals experiencing homelessness in cities around the country.  However, in my work as a service provider, I have been able to take part in what I feel is a unique data collection experience to aid in measuring this hard to quantify

Counting a Hidden Population

This week we are publishing a blog based on the fundamentals of evaluation. It will highlight the function evaluation can play in organizations around the world. We will start by making the case that the concept of scarcity is real both in the for-profit and nonprofit sector. There are currently millions of registered 501(c)3 organizations and that number is growing. With that being said, it is more important than ever

Leveraging Data to Become a Competitive Organization