Data Doesn’t Have to be Rocket Science by Bridgit Donnelly

By at August 18, 2014 | 1:23 pm | Print

Data Doesn’t Have to be Rocket Science by Bridgit Donnelly

Bridgit Donnelly

As the Data Training Manager, I’ve had many conversations over the last few months with organizers and organizations go something like this: “I want to use data, but it just sounds so hard,” or “Yeah, they used data on the Obama campaign, but I work at a much smaller organization; we don’t really need that.”

Neither could be farther from the truth. Few (if any) organizations have the benefit of unlimited time, money or people. Data is what can help your organization utilize those limited resources more strategically and effectively.

If you’re reading this email, you’re capable of following these simple steps (using only elementary school level math!) that will make your projects or campaigns smarter, more intentional, and more effective.

  • Audit your resources. Think back to those limited resources. What do you have? What are your goals? Who has the power and what do they want? How can you leverage your resources to meet your goals?
  • Set benchmarks. Once you’ve assessed and determined your strategic goals, how do you define success? How do you get there? What are the benchmarks along the way that will help you monitor your progress? What tactics will you use to reach these benchmarks?
  • Choose metrics. Now that you’ve determined your tactics, think about what metrics you will need to measure to know if you are succeeding. For example, if a tactic is knocking on doors, how many recruitment phone calls will you need to make in order to recruit enough volunteers to meet your goal?
  • Collect data. Actually come up with a method to collect your data. This is anything from sign-in sheets that get entered on a Google spreadsheet, to monitoring your progress with VAN or another database.
  • Evaluate & analyze This is the important piece that many organizations skip. As you’re collecting data, take the time to evaluate and see if you’re on track to meet the benchmark you set. If you’re not, can you identify why not?
  • Adjust. If things aren’t going well, fix it! Don’t stick to a tactic if it’s not working. Be willing to adjust as needed in order to meet your goal. Just make sure that your adjustments are still leading you to the overarching strategic goal.

None of these steps are rocket science, nor do they require a specialized skill set. However, when put to work, following this data cycle can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your campaign.

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Bridgit Donnelly, Data Training Manager New Organizing Institute (NOI)  NOI trains organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making. NOI provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level.

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Bridgit Donnelly

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