By Amy Stuczynski, Data Analyst
The State of Nonprofit Data report conducted by NTEN and Idealware found that 99% of nonprofits track some sort of metrics yet, “how nonprofits are currently using data does not necessarily reflect how they would like to use it.” We think some of that disconnect might come from not bridging the numbers and the real people who live that data on a daily basis.
Too often numbers sit in a report or in the dark corners of a website when they should be intimately connected to providers’ and participants’ lives. So in the past couple months we’ve been sharing the latest Oregon IDA Initiative data about reach and impact at Roadshow events in Bend, Grants Pass, Roseburg, Springfield, and Portland. Events in Salem and Portland are scheduled for December.
Participants at each have provided valuable insights and feedback. Here are 4 reasons we’ve found the IDA Data Roadshow to be useful:
1. Hearing IDA graduates share their insights on the statewide data.
IDA graduates have shared the impacts the IDA program has had in their lives. Beyond looking at hard numbers, IDA graduates remind us about the immense sense of accomplishment and security they’ve experienced, and how those impacts continue to grow and be felt over time. They’ve been able to comment on whether the conclusions we’re drawing from the data ring true for them given their experience in the program. They are also able to speak to the experience of completing exit and follow-up surveys, from which the Initiative gathers a lot of its data on impacts.
2. Seeing our different stakeholders come together collaboratively.
We’ve been hearing about the different ways partners are building programs and offering services in their regions, which is spurring us to think about the impacts of these partnerships in new ways. For instance, when we hear about service providers in the same region working together to provide financial education to savers, it leads us to think about the ways in which these types of program collaborations may be linking savers to additional resources. We’ve witnessed donors, IDA graduates, and program providers developing relationships and exchanging innovative ideas on how to support IDA savers and further their impacts.
3. Challenging us to evolve the evaluation to better reflect the different asset classes and communities we serve.
Roadshow participants have asked questions seeking to better understand the IDA’s accessibility and availability. Their stories remind us that while our desired impacts are universal, they may look different based on the asset the participant is saving for, where the participant lives, and myriad other circumstances. Their questions challenge us to tell a more refined data-driven story of the impacts in different communities.
4. Learning about different barriers participants and programs are facing across the state, so we can assess our success at overcoming them.
We’re hearing about both programmatic and data collection challenges that may be unique to rural areas, or for youth, or for microenterprise savers, etc. By surfacing these concerns and understanding where various challenges lie, we can refine our questions and what we’re monitoring so that we can gauge our success in breaking down those barriers.
We appreciate the feedback, questions, comments and discussion to date. By working together with those on the ground with the IDA program, we believe we will have a stronger evaluation and stronger ability to demonstrate our impact. A summary report of the specific themes that arose in the Roadshow conversations, and what those ideas might mean for refining our data collection, cleaning, and analysis, will be posted at the beginning of the year. We will continue to look for ways to engage stakeholders in the evaluation process.
Learn more at https://oregonidainitiative.org/roadshow/