The Importance Of Data To The NPO Sector: Part 1 Donors

At Salesian Life Choices the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) team loves good data! It plays an essential part in our organization in terms of fundraising, making evidence-based decisions, and keeping our donors happy. Indeed, you could say our mantra is “In God we trust; all others must bring data”. 

NPOs are at the mercy of the charitable donations of funders and the public; without them we would not be able to fulfil our commitments to our beneficiaries. In recent years have become increasingly demanding on NPOs to provide evidence that a programme achieved its intended objectives within the agreed timelines and financial terms. This is not unreasonable, as without evidence of programme success, donors have no evidence that their funds have made any difference to the problem they were hoping to ameliorate. Quality programme data is therefore imperative because without data, any conclusions drawn about the programme are potential stabs in the dark.

Whether or not the necessary data is available can have major consequences for an NPO; if they are not able to prove that they have met their objectives, funders could take their funds elsewhere to organisations that are able to demonstrate this. It is therefore imperative that programme staff collect data not only on their day-to-day activities, such as the number of workshops run or the number of clients seen (outputs), but also on the benefits that their services have had on those who they reach (outcomes).

This is frequently easier said and done though, as it requires some degree of M&E expertise. It is all too common that programmes doing invaluable work with the most vulnerable populations do not have the resources to collect and analyse data that demonstrates their successes. Ultimately, it the programme beneficiaries who will suffer. It is therefore important that NPOs request support from their donors in setting up M&E systems; whether it be by funding a new position for an M&E officer, or by providing capacity building training to the organisation.

Check out the next blog where post will be explaining how good data can help with organisational decision making.


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