Nonprofits and Data

last person joined: 18 days ago 

This group is for those interested in learning and sharing about all things data-related for nonprofits. The Nonprofits and Data group is for people using data to serve a mission, either directly or by improving nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. That includes everything from collecting data and managing databases to analytics, data visualization and data mining. Here are some examples of topics we discuss: using data to improve organizational effectiveness, measuring impact, using data for storytelling, tools for data management and analysis, figuring out the “right” data to collect, and learning skills to help us use data better.

Documentation of historical reporting and organizational changes

  • 1.  Documentation of historical reporting and organizational changes

    Posted Dec 08, 2017 17:19
    I'm interested in learning from other organizations about the ways in which you handle reporting on program activities towards your mission, particularly in regards to accountability in historical reference and documentation of possible changes in definitions as your organization evolves, or different ways that a particular activity is capture in your database.

    We have the current ability to extract data tables of our database which is hosted online so we have a snapshot, as well as saving the queries that build the data set on which we aggregate numbers to report out. However, we are desiring a more streamlined process, as well as are exploring other ways to do this as our vendor is not interested in continuing support of the data extract functionality.

    What is the depth in which other organizations maintain original database snapshots, data sets, or even the original queries that are used to extract data on which reporting is based? How do you capture definitions that may shift over time with organizational changes?

    Thank you all for the support you offer -- I've learned a lot from other questions posed and answered in this group!
    Cheers,
    Rebecca

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    Rebecca Lahr
    Database Manager
    Northside Achievement Zone
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  • 2.  RE: Documentation of historical reporting and organizational changes

    Posted Dec 11, 2017 10:47
    When I used to lead program/grant reporting, I had to consolidate data from multiple sources so I basically had a massive spreadsheet.  Once all the cleaning/de-duping was done, I had one summary sheet that contained everything we used or had to report on.  There was a column that tied back to a sheet with definitions or what went into those numbers/source/how it was compiled if I had to pull from multiple.  I did also keep a Word document of my Excel formulas.  I updated the definitions/formulas documents each year, but I always saved a snapshot copy of the final numbers for the year so that there was a record somewhere of both what the numbers and definitions were for that point in time.  Basically when all I was said and done I would save one snapshot copy (values) and one workbook copy (with formulas) to build off of for the next year.

    There is probably a better way to have done that but that was what I had come up with at the time.  Also, there were only 2 of us who worked on all of the program/grant data as a portion of our respective roles, thus it's not like I had to make sure that 10 other people would be able to keep things consistent.

    I'd be curious to hear how other people handle or have handled this!

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    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Technical Training Specialist, Development and Alumni Relations
    Johns Hopkins Institutions
    Baltimore, MD
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Documentation of historical reporting and organizational changes

    Posted Dec 14, 2017 08:57
    Thanks Janice! That's very helpful. If anyone else has other ways of handling this, I'd be interested to hear.
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