Empowering Community Based Organizations to Utilize Data for Program Monitoring and Evaluation

Document Type

Conference Presentation

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issue: Many community based organizations (CBOs) have limited capacity to demonstrate their impact through data collection and evaluation, despite often having funders who require such activities. Without access to expertise and resources around data-use and evaluation, CBOs are unable to effectively make data-informed decisions or use data to tell the story of their organization.

description: The Data Innovation Project (DIP), situated within the University of Southern Maine, began offering free two-hour technical assistance (TA) sessions for CBOs in 2016 and has since worked with over 60 organizations. Although most organizations apply for a TA session to work on data collection and analysis, the majority of these sessions begin by working as a team to draft a theory of change and a logic model. In tandem, these evaluation tools provide the groundwork for organizations to methodologically collect data and subsequently use the data in meaningful ways.

lessons learned: By surveying organizations three months after their sessions, most organizations have stated the sessions made them feel more confident in their organization’s ability to use data effectively and to learn from data. The majority of survey respondents reported making changes around data collection and visualization.

recommendations: The Data Innovation Project will continue to provide TA sessions to community organizations. E-learning modules are being developed around several topics, including theory of change and logic models, so that organizations are primed on these topics prior to their session and are further prepared to undertake program monitoring and/or evaluation efforts.