I’m just going to come right out and say it: data is here to stay. Whether you can’t wait to crunch numbers, or you avoid metrics like the plague, you can’t deny that data helps your nonprofit do better work.
Data measures progress: It tells you if you’re working in line with your mission; if you’re providing all you can for your beneficiaries; if you’re making the most of your grant dollars.
Data tells you what’s working and what’s not: Do the students in your afterschool programs learn anything? Are they more successful in the classroom?
Data helps you scale up (or down): It tells you whether you can offer more programs in a different city, or if you’re trying to tackle too much too soon.
Some nonprofits are already harnessing the power of data, and are pushing its boundaries everyday. Take the Crisis Text Line (CTL), a New York City-based nonprofit, founded in 2013 by Do Something’s CEO, Nancy Lublin, which provides counseling services via text to individuals in crisis.