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A new platform helps nonprofits understand and leverage their data

Data.org partnered with design studio Upstatement to create a survey that would give nonprofits a better window into their data.

A new platform helps nonprofits understand and leverage their data

Taking a Data Maturity Assessment might not sound like the most enthralling way to spend your afternoon. But a new survey, created by design studio Upstatement in conjunction with data.org, is tailored to assist nonprofits, philanthropies, academic institutions, and other social impact organizations in interpreting and employing their data.

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The assessment won the Small Business category of Fast Company‘s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. It’s geared toward organizations that often lack funding or materials to leverage their data, according to Britt Dalton, a project manager at Upstatement.

[Image: courtesy Upstatement]
“[Social impact organizations] don’t have as many resources as the private sector does to be able to invest in things like data management, data security, and governance,” she says. Data.org and Upstatement are aiming to level that playing field.

The assessment, which can be taken by anyone at an organization, measures three aspects of data: people, practice, and purpose. These categories ask participants to reflect on how their leadership teams use data, whether their organization has some form of data infrastructure, such as a data security team, and whether that data is being used to inform business strategies. The survey results are meant to inform everything from funding strategies to hiring and recruiting.

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[Image: courtesy Upstatement]
“We put a lot of work into trying to clarify what we meant by data maturity and break it up in a way that felt digestible so that people are like, ‘okay, I get it,'” Dalton says.

The designers knew that many people taking the survey wouldn’t be familiar with data or the language around it, so they built in helper text–a feature where participants can hover over a given word and get more information about it. The team also worked with consultants to make both the questions and the survey itself concise: It takes just 12 minutes to fill out.

Although the survey is designed to be short, Dalton wanted to make sure its impact would be long-lasting. “Not only did we connect [users] with resources related to their [Data Maturity Assessment] scores, but we also gave them a ‘how to use your scores’ guide,” she says. “We really tried to make it so that once you finished the survey, it didn’t just feel like you [were] done.”

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Dalton’s hope is that nonprofits and other businesses in the public sector will use the assessment annually, so that participants are able to track their progress. And with the survey garnering over 300 responses in the first 100 days, companies are only just getting started.

This article is part of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. Explore the full list of companies creating products, reimagining spaces, and working to design a better world.

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