Using Data to Effect Change

Data-Maturity-for-Synagogues-e1426711373810Organizations in the nonprofit sector are increasingly realizing the value of using data to make decisions, but they are often unsure where to begin. To help, UJA-Federation of New York’s SYNERGY has constructed a roadmap that illustrates how nonprofits can begin collecting and tracking data in increasingly sophisticated ways.

The report – specifically directed toward synagogues – is called “Data Maturity for Synagogues: Incorporating Data into the Decision-Making Culture,” but these same lessons can apply to any nonprofit that is looking to become more data savvy. The report was prepared in collaboration with Idealware, with input from Measuring Success.

According to the report, there are six stages in an organization’s progression from being a data beginner to a data expert: collecting basic data; collecting data systematically; soliciting community feedback; acting on key findings; establishing goals and capturing trends; and ultimately realizing their full potential to make data-driven decisions.

It includes a self-assessment tool, and steps to short- and long-term goals that can help synagogues work more effectively, efficiently, and with a better understanding of the desires, needs, and interests of their communities.

The report includes five examples of synagogues that fall on various parts of the “data maturity” continuum:

  • A small upstate synagogue, which began tracking volunteers to improve programming;
  • A mid-sized urban synagogue that tracks and stores attendance in a database;
  • A large synagogue that used data to explain dwindling attendance in its youth group;
  • A suburban synagogue that has made gathering data a key tool in everything from program evaluation to hiring staff;
  • A large suburban synagogue that has embraced data-driven decision making in allocating resource and determining budgets.

The complete report is available for download here.