As part of our offerings to nonprofit organizations in Central Texas, we created a fully immersive one-day event called the Data Institute. The 2018 Data Institute took place on November 13, attracting 350 data leaders from 50 organizations. The day centered around a high-curated agenda, including 16 sessions on topics ranging from data sharing, storytelling with data, creating and disseminating effective surveys, and championing data use within a non-profit organization. In addition, 10 organizations participated in the Solutions Showcase, a specialized peer-to-peer opportunity to share key approaches to long-standing data and evaluation challenges.
The keynote address was provided by nonprofit data and evaluation expert Sam Cobbs. His speech, “Building and Sustaining a Culture of Learning,” provided the group with some key takeaways:
- Data matters: it’s not just about proving what you’re doing; it’s about improving what you’re doing
- Policy and systems change matter: change systems and policies and work yourself out of business. Leverage philanthropy to drive innovation and find new solutions that work
- Don’t forget about the heart: data is the head and people are the heart. Before you can hold people accountable, you have to hold them
The format of the day is specifically designed for team-based learning, with guided reflection and action planning throughout the day. Our goal is to help non-profit organizations learn important new skills and knowledge – not just for the sake of learning, but so that they can go back to their organizations, present their ideas, and make change as data champions.