Above: Community leaders gather for the EcoDistricts Incubator at the Millvale Food + Energy Hub in 2019.
There are handfuls of reasons as to why individuals choose careers in the nonprofit sector, but at the basis of them all is the desire to help others.
Whatever sector that may be, to make the greatest impact in the lives of the people they work with, a nonprofit is constantly learning information about the needs of the community and using it to secure resources that improve their conditions.
Essentially, data collection turns a person into a number. But if a nonprofit has the tools to take that data, flip it, and reverse it, they can successfully turn that number back into a person.
To increase transparency between organizations and communities, and help them access the information and technology needed to reach their shared goals, New Sun Rising launched the Power in Numbers initiative.
This initiative allows leaders to track and compare their progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through a central technology data management system: the Vibrancy Portal.
“I see this as a way of really bringing the community in to understanding the importance of numbers and why organizations may ask them specific questions,” said Jamie Johnson, Director of Programs at New Sun Rising. “Then there is the opportunity to have that anecdotal and qualitative storytelling happening so it personifies those numbers and connects the community at the same time.”
By assisting organizations in collecting and managing their information, this initiative gives leaders the ability to generate insights across multiple data sets to improve their outcomes, produce better reports, and engage stakeholders through storytelling. The information also contributes to a shared data resource, which serves to promote collective impact and advocacy.
Brown Mamas Executive Director Muffy Mendoza said utilizing this initiative has been monumental for her small organization.
“Power in Numbers allows me to do the capacity building work that I need to do without hiring an employee or spending funds that my organization doesn’t have,” Mendoza said. “This year, I was able to do some foundational work that I’d been putting off for years through the Power in Numbers initiative. It helped me apply for more funding and develop a strategic plan to guide Brown Mamas in the next 2-5 years.”
Johnson said that a strengthened data culture can allow nonprofit and social enterprise leaders to see the areas where they excel and where they can improve, and then share that information back to the people they serve to ask what can be done differently as well as celebrate the areas where they are doing well.
“My biggest thing is getting away from people being boiled down to a number, but knowing that number represents a life in a community and how do we bring life back to these numbers? I think this is a way we can do that, but it’s going to take community understanding and buy in for that to really happen,” said Johnson.
The Power in Numbers initiative builds upon years of investment by New Sun Rising designed to strengthen the region’s capacity for data collection, collective impact, and the Sustainable Development Goals. At launch, the initiative will serve nonprofits and social enterprises that have participated in New Sun Rising’s capacity building or intermediary funding programs.
To learn more about how to bring the power of data and collective impact to your work, register for the upcoming Power in Numbers Workshop on Tuesday, February 23 from 12-1 p.m. Partnership or media inquiries about the initiative can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power in Numbers was developed and launched through the grant support of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Google (Tides Foundation).