You’re sitting in your office. You’re exhausted, frazzled, and looking over piles of reports as you attempt to complete a grant application. No matter how hard you try to make time stand still, five o’clock seems to be coming at you faster than a bullet train down a mountain. The task at hand has driven you to talk to yourself.
“How do I make this impact report meaningful?”
“How can I demonstrate what great work we’re doing?”
“Can’t I just say we’re effective and impactful?!”
You’ve already got enough on your plate. Getting the numbers together feels like an unscalable peak. You wish you could avoid this entirely. Don’t you wish someone could help you figure out how to use your data to get more funding?
Face Your Fears
Here at Datassist, we feel your pain. But data is our job — so we can’t leave you to keep feeling this way. The first step towards using data to get more funding is understanding why you don’t want to deal with data in the first place. Typically, data stress comes from one of two sources:
- The feeling that you’ll never have enough time to deal with data
- The fear that once your data is “out there”, you won’t have control over it
You will need to face both of these issues if you want to use your data to get more funding. In the past, many nonprofits have avoided impact measurement because they felt it was too difficult, misleading, or simply not that important. But funding requirements today make impact reporting based on data a necessity.
The results of the 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey indicate that 62% of nonprofits list financial stability as their number one challenge. You’re not alone. But most funders want impact metrics before they start writing checks. Grant applications not supported by data have a dwindling chance of being accepted. Using data to get more funding isn’t just for big, multinational organizations anymore. Even small nonprofits must have their numbers at the ready. Funding agencies need to know you’re managing your money well and sending as much of it as possible to where it’s most needed.
Competition for funding is strong. You need to paint a clear picture of your impact — or your application could be one of the first to be cut. In short, avoiding data is simply not in your best interests.
Solve Your Data Problems
First, let’s deal with those time and control issues I mentioned above. Then, we’ll look at a case study that demonstrates how one nonprofit effectively used data to get more funding.
You don’t have time to deal with data.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Make data a part of your culture. Make it a habit. If you get your data lab coat on now — instead of waiting until the week before your application deadline — you’ll always have the numbers when you need them.
The average nonprofit our team at Datassist has worked with needed to spend about five to eight hours per week on data. Split that job between a couple of people, and it’s only a couple of hours a week each. Now the issue is one of priorities and scheduling, instead of a lack of time. (And juggling priorities is what you do. You can handle that!)
You’ll lose control over your data.
Once your data is out there, it’s out there. It’s understandable that you worry about how people will perceive your organization. But here’s the problem. Without that data, the perception of your impact only comes from you.
When you provide data on what you do, external parties can create their own picture of your impact — and that makes this information more credible. Journalists and funders alike need that impartiality. And the more impartial the data, the more likely people are to accept it as truth.
Use Data to Get More Funding
One of the achievements we’re most proud of here at Datassist is our work with the Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain project in Bangladesh. A partnership between CARE USA, CARE Bangladesh, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the SDVC project helps the farmers of Bangladesh get more out the local dairy chain.
We developed advanced methods to analyze this project’s abnormally complex data, particularly on how the gender of group leaders affects milk income. Our team produced a report that gave the organization tremendous insight into their operations (mostly appealing to a very small technically-minded audience) as well as an infographic to more clearly convey what was happening with all that complex data.
The result was compelling. Not only did the Gates Foundation offer another round of funding, but several additional funders came forward to help support the project. All because there was empirical data to show the value of what they were doing.
You probably didn’t get into the nonprofit sector because of your love of numbers. There’s a chance you even think data is boring. But you need data to help tell stories your stakeholders can immediately understand. You need data to get more funding. Ready to get started? We’re here to help. Get in touch today to discuss your project.