Data Gets You Funding, Part 2
Begin with the End in Mind
In Part. 1 of this series, we emphasized how important it is to begin with the end in mind. It’s a critical step, not only for your program goals, but also for the evaluation of those and goals so you can share your impact with your stakeholders. But what does it mean, concretely, to begin with the end in mind?
There are a few simple things you can do in the beginning that will set you up for massive success down the road, most of which cost little or no money as you begin any new endeavor:
- Track Demographics. Create an intake form and collect basic data from everyone who is starting your program. Things like demographics (race, gender, age, etc.) are critical for communicating to funders, who will almost always have very specific target audiences.
- Collect Baseline Data. Determine what your key outcome measures are. How will you know if the program is a success—that is, what is it designed to do? Increase self-esteem? Decrease destructive behaviors? Then, add some very simple questions to your intake document to assess a baseline of these things.
- Don’t Forget the Qualitative. Don’t think just about a form or survey. Do some quick interviews and record the responses as people come into a program. These stories are key to unlocking the full picture of program impact.
If you do these three simple things, you’ll be in much better shape when it comes time to apply for funding, raise money, or start working with an external evaluator to demonstrate impact.
Let me illustrate how this works with an example. We had two clients approach us at about the same time last year. “Sam” was in roughly the position as described at the beginning of the article last week. He was running a successful program, and now needed to document impact in order to secure more funding. The other, we’ll call her Sally, had instituted a version of the three bullet points above from the beginning.
We were able to complete Sally’s project in a few weeks as she raced toward a grant deadline because all we had to do was some background research and collect additional data about outcomes to demonstrate impact.
Sam’s project needed to start from scratch, and although we have some tricks for making that possible covered in Part 1, he missed the window and wasn’t able to apply for the grant he was seeking until a year later.
In the third and final part of this series, we lay out exactly what kind of data funders typically want to see and how you can set up a system that easily and impactfully communicates those data.
Josh Packard, PhD, is the Executive Director of Springtide Research Institute