Does your non-profit practice data sharing?

data1Last week I was in Reno, Nevada at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) Pacific Leadership Conference. This week I am in Mashantucket, Connecticut at BGCA’s Northeast Leadership Conference. The common denominator is that I am helping organize and facilitate a training track for executive directors and school superintendents. One of the sessions in the training track addresses the issue of data sharing, and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss today with DonorDreams readers.

Why include this topic in a training track focused on collaboration? Because data sharing is an important part of developing any successful partnership.

In the Boys & Girls Club universe, schools and Clubs share data with each other for a number if reasons including:

  • It is a way to measure success.
  • It is a way to improve programs.
  • It is a way to demonstrate ROI to donors.

Of course, if sharing data was easy, everyone would be doing it. Here are a few obstacles participants identified:

  • Time
  • Limited staff
  • Untrained staff
  • Lack of reasons for needing specific data
  • Client privacy
  • Trust

data2The following are just a few key strategies identified by participants that will help any non-profit organization sustain data sharing agreements with its partners:

  • Develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) clearly spelling out roles and responsibilities.
  • Seek to understand your partner first before seeking to be understood.
  • Have a reason for needing the data for which you are asking.
  • Be mission-driven and focused when it comes to your partnerships and data needs.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings are communication opportunities.
  • Make data sharing part of your non-profit culture.
  • Use the data for which you’re asking and share the aggregated results with your partners.
  • Use the data for which you’re asking to make important decisions thus demonstrating the importance of it to all stakeholders both internal and external.
  • Have your data analysis plan written and in place before you collect the data because collecting data for the sake of collecting data is frustrating and stupid.

The following are a few great online resources pertaining to data collection, sharing and usage:

I walked away from the three different symposiums that I helped organize and facilitate this month with the following big take away:

If you want to measure the depth and strength of your collaboration, then look at your data sharing efforts.

What does your data sharing efforts with other partners look like? What best practices and key strategies can you share with others? If you don’t share data with your collaborative partners, would you be willing to share with us why not?

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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