Creating a data culture

I want to take a minute to talk about a data culture.

You might Google “data culture” or ask some people around and they might tell you “oh you know, a data culture is about hiring people on who can do data work at your organization and do fancy graphs,”.

Yes - those things are important. Identifying metrics and being creative about the ways you use information is all important, but that’s not a data culture.

A data culture requires a fundamental shift and thinking in your organization. A data culture is about decision-making - when you approach any decision you make, the first thing you want to ask yourself is what is the information that I need to be able to make an inform decision?. What is the information, what are the data points that you want to have at your fingertips so that you can look forward, knowing that you are making decisions based on data and reality rather what your thoughts and perceptions might be - which may or may not be correct.

That’s the idea around a data culture. The thing about data culture is that it goes all the way from the executive director level down to the program level, from administrators and directors all the way down to front line staff. Everybody and every decision they are making - whether it is designing a program, or it is meeting with funders, or it is delivering services to clients - every person is beginning to say “what information or data do I need do to this work?”

With front line staff, you might be saying what is the information about your client that you need to be able to move forward, have you done a thorough and proper assessment and you have that information in front of you before your about ready to make case referral, a treatment decision or some type of intervention plan.

Going all the way to the executive director level - hey you maybe want to run a donor survey or you want to get in touch with your donors. Maybe you are thinking about making tweaks to your program but you want to have that information in front of you so that you are making those decisions based on something concrete and real.

That’s what a data culture is: having information to make decisions. So my recommendation for you, for the next week, take one day every day this week and say, “every decision I’m going to make, I’m going to look first to find the data that I need to be able to move forward and make this decision”.

* * *

Are you interested in solving complex problems and securing funding for your nonprofit through data-driven decision-making? Contact us today at and signup for our newsletter

Andrew Reynolds