The Current State of Nonprofit Data
There is no gentle way to say this – right now, nonprofit reporting data is by and large a mess. Vast swathes of forms and reporting are still document based, and those that are digital are disparate and disconnected from one another, even within single agencies. Current processes and IT systems fail to address duplicative reporting burdens because they are structurally incapable of doing so. On top of burdening the grantees and subgrantees with redundant, time-consuming reporting, this leaves program managers and leadership with their own administrative crosses to bear – with no functional ways to input and cross-reference grantee and program information outside prohibitively expensive manual data entry or text crawlers which then have to be verified, program improvements are too long coming and cannot address emerging or changing needs.
On top of this, the sheer volume of requested data is arguably doing both grantors and grantees a disservice – every additional metric and measure requires additional administration on the part of both parties. Agencies are frequently asking for information with no clear idea of how it might be used, operating under the assumption that more data is always better, but in many cases the near-continuous increase in collection points can serve to obscure instead of illuminate. Differences in vocabulary – not only between grantors and grantees, but between and even sometimes within agencies – can lead to incorrect reporting and subsequently to contrary answers and analytics that should line up but do not. This in turn leads to challenges in policy development, funding requests, and program justifications despite a wealth of information delivered in good faith by grantees.
The Grant Innovation Roundtable, thanks to generous support from Workiva and StreamLink Software, took a first step toward solving the mess.
Continue reading the blog post here.