October 7, 2013

6 best practices in making data visualizations

Avoid 3D charts, extend bar charts to zero & other key tips

Target audience: Data designers, metrics and analytics experts, nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Guest post by Beth Kanter
Beth’s Blog

beth-kanterEarlier this year at the Packard Foundation, I facilitated a peer learning group based on my book Measuring the Networked Nonprofit and focusing on the sense-making step of measurement.

This part of the measurement process is most the fun because it covers visualization, pattern recognition, and reflection. I wanted to take a deeper dive into resources out there that provide useful tips about how to do this step for folks who were not data scientists or data nerds.

I did a quick scan of data visualization resources to look for practical advice on the process of thinking visually and some technical information on what chart to select and data storytelling. Here’s what I discovered. Continue reading

November 17, 2011

How nonprofits should be using data

 

Why embracing data should be an important part of your leadership strategy

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, businesses, social media managers, marketing professionals, individuals.

Debra AskanaseI recently presented a workshop titled “Data Driven Leadership” at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network/AGM annual conference along with colleagues Marc Baizman and Steve Backman. The question we addressed in the workshop was: What online data can help a leader make informed decisions around programming, advocacy and fundraising? Marc, Steve and I have expertise in Google Analytics, in understanding customer segmentation and databases, and in identifying social media metrics, respectively. Each of us thought about how the data from our respective areas of expertise could shed light on an answer. The hardest part was choosing what to eliminate from our presentation, as we only had one hour to cover this enormous topic!

Getting started with gathering data

We created a DIY worksheet for the session titled, “Make Your Data Work for You.” It offers sample questions to get you started thinking in the areas of marketing, programs and services, development, and volunteers and advocacy. For every sample question, it asks you to set the priority level, consider what data you’ll need to answer that question, and where you can find the answer. There are a lot of spaces for you to customize the worksheet to your needs. You can read and download the worksheet.

DIY-Data-worksheet

For every leader, thinking about the real organizational questions that the data could offer is the place to begin.

Below are summaries of our segments of the presentation, written individually by each of us. You can also view the SlideShare presentation above for the complete takeaways. Continue reading

March 2, 2009

FrontlineSMS: Data collection just got easier

kiwanjaIt’s been a hectic few months, but we’re finally there. Today we’re excited to announce the release of the new FrontlineForms, an SMS-driven data collection tool that seamlessly integrates into our existing and growing FrontlineSMS platform.

Sure, data collection tools already exist, but many require mobile internet access to function, degrees in Linux to get running, or PDAs or the kinds of phones that just aren’t available to the masses in most developing countries. FrontlineForms runs on most high- and low-end Java-enabled phones, can be downloaded directly onto a handset over-the-air, doesn’t require internet access beyond installation, and utilises the already-proven simple user interface of FrontlineSMS. In short, FrontlineForms compliments our existing focus on empowering the social mobile long tail with an entry-level, usable data collection tool.

According to my thinking, tools for the long tail need – among other things – to run on readily available hardware wherever possible, and be simple to install and easy to use. These innocent little criteria can create huge challenges, though. Writing an application which runs on all desktops (Windows, Mac and the various flavours of Linux), that interfaces locally with the widest range of phones and modems, and connects remotely with a data collection tool which runs on as many Java-enabled handsets as possible is a huge technical challenge. Many other mobile solutions concentrate on one desktop operating system, or a small family of mobile phones (sometimes just a single phone), which is all fine if you want to concentrate on users higher up the long tail. With our focus on grassroots NGOs, we don’t.

Continue reading