A new social enterprise service designed to help nonprofit organizations improve how they measure their impact and fulfill their mission - developed by the Connecticut Data Collaborative (CTData) – has launched its second cohort of participating organizations, including 11 of the region’s most well-recognized and impactful nonprofits.
Organizations that participate in Data Strategic Planning (DSP) are provided 12 – 18 months of training and consulting. The initiative supports the organizations through decision-making and implementation, with the goal being to improve capacity, resource allocation, increase revenue, and support future development initiatives. During the strategic planning process, participants develop questions about their organization, and then use their own data to help answer those questions.
The nonprofits participating in the new cohort include: Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Covenant to Care for Children, Habitat for Humanity North Central CT, Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, Hartford Promise, Hands on Hartford, March Inc., Bridge Family Center, YWCA Hartford Region and Sustainable CT.
CTData Executive Director Michelle Riordan-Nold pointed out that the initiative was developed because “nonprofits are often awash in data that they don't know how to use to show their impact; or they are uncertain what data to collect, how to collect it, and how to use it strategically. Data literacy is at the core of the program, and we build from there.”
“The caliber and commitment of the mission-driven organizations participating in Data Strategic Planning is impressive and a true catalyst for the region and state,” said Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, who recently joined the Connecticut Data Collaborative as Director of Data Strategic Planning. “Data Strategic Planning allows organizations to take ownership over their data, measure their impact, and tell their story through data. Our aim is to assist organizations build processes to streamline and enhance reporting and increase their capacity for resource development.”
"We are very grateful to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and CT Data for giving us this opportunity to create a data strategic plan and the ability to learn how to maximize both our collection of data and its use,” shares Sivan Hines, Senior Director of College Partnerships with Hartford Promise. “As the number of our Hartford Promise scholars continues to grow, we want to gather more data and be able to make better informed decisions on how to continually improve our programs and outcomes."
“Sustainable CT is grateful to be part of this learning journey with CTData Collaborative and our nonprofit peers. We are eager to build a better understanding of our data needs and how we can best manage data to meet our goals. This training is coming at a critical time for us - strategic data management is one of our top goals for 2023,” explains Lynn Stoddard, Executive Director of Sustainable CT.
The benefits to nonprofit staff participating in the Data Strategic Planning process include developing increased data literacy skills and confidence in those skills. With these new skills, organizations will improve their storytelling, better measure their impact, and enhance their ability to increase their funding base.
The planning process will also enable staff to spend less time sifting through data and more time compiling their data into useful information that can inform decisions, including pursuing equity objectives, and developing a better understanding of why they collect the information they do from people they serve.
Data Strategic Planning also benefits philanthropy. When recipients of support are better able to measure the return on an investment, donors can give with greater confidence. Funders are able to fully embrace the tenets of trust-based philanthropy because the impact of their giving can be measured with greater accuracy.
After Data Strategic Planning, organizations can clearly show their impact, and donors can better recognize the value of their investment. With improved measurement and storytelling, there is an opportunity to remove the often-seen frustrations between nonprofit organizations and foundations. That will help all involved - and the broader community - better appreciate how change is being accomplished, and better measure how equity goals are being advanced, particularly in a changed post-pandemic world.
This new cohort is supported by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The initial pilot, which began last fall, includes Connecticut Forest & Park Association, CT Forum, Hartford’s Camp Courant, FOCUS Center for Autism, Intensive Education Academy, iQuilt, Hockanum Valley Community Council and Talcott Mountain Science Center.
CT Data empowers an ecosystem of data users by democratizing access to public data and building data literacy skills. CTData serves residents, nonprofits, policymakers, and funders in using data to drive policy, program, and service improvements. The organization strives to promote and engage data users in implementing equitable data practices across the state.
CTData program initiatives include the CTData Academy, Equity in Data Community of Practice., Customized Data Workshops and Data Consulting services. Among its areas of responsibility, CTData has been designated as the lead organization for the State of Connecticut in the U.S. Census Bureau’s State Data Center Program.
More information about the Data Strategic Planning initiative, and other CTData programs and datasets, is available on the website at ctdata.org.
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