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How to Make More Data-Informed Decisions at Your Nonprofit

2 min read
Oct 9, 2023

In today's data-driven world, making informed decisions is crucial for success in any organization. But how do you ensure that you are effectively using data to guide your decision-making process?

In a recent Good Marketing Unplugged podcast conversation, Tim Lockie, nonprofit technologist and founder of The Human Stack, shared valuable insights into making more data-informed decisions. In this article, we'll provide practical tips on how to evaluate your data-informed decision-making process.

The Three Layers of Data-Informed Decision Making

Tim emphasizes that making data-informed decisions involves three essential layers: data, information and insight. Let's break down these layers to understand their significance:

  • Data: Data is the raw information you collect, such as numbers, statistics, and facts. It's the foundation of the decision-making process and serves as the starting point.
  • Information: Information is the middle layer that bridges the gap between data and insight. It involves organizing and contextualizing data to make it meaningful and useful. Turning data into information helps you understand the current state of affairs.
  • Insight: Insight is the highest layer in the decision-making process. It involves interpreting information to gain a deeper understanding and answer critical questions. Insights enable you to make informed decisions based on a thorough analysis of the data.

The Challenge of Data-Informed Decision Making

While the concept of data-informed decision making sounds straightforward, it becomes more complex to create a seamless data-to-decision pipeline as organizations grow. So Tim points to six "digital health vitals" to evaluate an organization's maturity in making data-informed decisions. The three human-focused vitals are: digital strategy, system sustainability and accountability.

  • Digital Strategy: Having a clear digital strategy is essential. It ensures that your team understands the direction you're heading and why you're using data to make decisions.
  • System Sustainability: Sustainable systems are crucial for long-term success. You need to create an environment where your team can consistently rely on data without disruption.
  • Accountability: Accountability is about focusing on behaviors you want to see within your team. Acknowledge and reward team members who demonstrate positive behaviors related to data-informed decision making.

Evaluating Your Digital Maturity

The first step to making more data-informed decisions is to evaluate your organization's digital maturity. Ask your team the following questions:

  • Do you trust your data? The level of trust in your data affects your ability to make data-informed decisions.
  • Are you focused on behaviors you want to see? Consider whether you are rewarding and acknowledging the right behaviors related to data-informed decision making.
  • Can you point to reports that guide your decisions? Being able to identify the reports and data sources you rely on for decision-making is a good sign of maturity.
  • Can you pre-make decisions based on data? If you can outline decisions in advance based on certain data outcomes, you are on the right track.

Making data-informed decisions is a critical skill for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Tim's insights highlight the importance of trust in data, focusing on the right behaviors, and developing a clear digital strategy. By evaluating your organization's digital maturity and addressing areas of improvement, you can enhance your ability to make informed decisions that drive success.



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