Data is a crucial part of telling your organization’s story and proving outcomes. Stakeholders and service recipients alike demand transparency and evidence that programs positively impact both individuals and communities. Is your organization one of thousands of agencies in the process of building (or rebuilding) an effective data collection and reporting infrastructure? Or are you one of the tens of thousands who recognize the need to prove program outcomes, but you’re not sure where to start?
Track these 12 types of data to stay informed and tell your organization’s story:
- Data that relates directly to your stated organizational mission. What does success look like to your particular organization? Mission impact tracking should be part of your data set and is critical to building your story and credibility among your stakeholders, staff and donors.
- Data for comparing outcomes and results. Collect data in a way that allows you to compare and analyze results efficiently and evaluate performance progress over time and programs with similar or different populations.
- Internal operations and financial data. This data is not only essential for program and staff planning—it will also influence your organization’s long-term legacy plan.
- Learn from your mistakes by tracking them. As the saying goes, “failure can be the key to success.” In program and outcomes management, it is just as important to shine a light on what didn’t work as it is to celebrate what did. With this “full-picture” information in hand, your organization can thoroughly analyze challenges, pivot and move forward to deliver more impact.
- Client feedback at intake and discharge (or pre- and post-service). Use surveys and interviews to track participant’s first-hand experiences. This information will help you discover areas for improvement and/or development. Additionally, positive testimonials are a powerful way to reach other people who need help and hope.
- “Triage” assessments at intake and discharge. This data will give you a real-time picture of which service recipient groups tend to have the most urgent need(s) for assistance—and help you plan accordingly.
- Referrals by type of service and provider/partner agency. Comprehensive referral data will help you identify your agency’s strongest community partners and help strengthen those relationships by ensuring no information or clients “fall through the cracks.”
- Public outreach efforts by campaign and approach. What makes new people “plug-in” to your mission? Gather outreach data in a variety of ways and keep track of it to help you refine your story and “pitch.”
- Progressive outcomes-specific milestones by individual and group. Outcomes data is essential to articulate what your organization delivers to both service recipients and the community-at-large. Further, more and more funders have begun to require it from their grantees.
- Demographic information for both clients and service providers. Culturally-competent social service provision is essential. To best serve your clients, you must understand their stories and backgrounds. Additionally, funders and regulators at the federal, state and local levels often require demographic information for both clients and staff.
- Volunteer areas of interest, expertise and availability. Your organization likely relies on volunteers to reach its mission and objectives. To retain and recruit volunteers, agencies must keep holistic records of their goals, strengths, preferences and experiences.
- Donors by giving history and philanthropic goals. Your organization shares a unique story—and mission—with each of its individual and institutional donors. Record the causes, campaigns and approaches that inspire your stakeholders to give to sustain and deepen their support.
Ultimately, collecting data that tells a comprehensive story about clients, programs, volunteers, staff and donors is critical to mission achievement. If you’re not already tracking these 12 types of data, now is the time to start. To learn more about how your organization can track and communicate challenges and successes, check out Social Solutions’ Apricot Software.