Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Data Collection Is Fundamental To Your Nonprofit

When we think of surveys, there's a tendency to think surveys are limited to fulfilling market research, we think scientific research, and we think of many other uses for surveys. However, another priceless way to think of data collection is to apply this idea to writing grant letters.

The most important aspect in running a nonprofit is by funding services with donations and grants. As a founder of a nonprofit organization, I've learned that in applying for a grant, you must, in short, "prove" your organization is making a difference.

How do nonprofits prove their success rate? By surveying the population you are helping, you collect the necessary metrics needed for writing any grant letter. I've found paper surveys and data analysis to be cumbersome. Reviewing many clients' data is not a one time process. There are followups after followups with the population you help in order to graphically analyze metrics and submit these with your grant request.

While being a founder of a nonprofit, I'm also a technophile and a software developer. I'm always looking for the most efficient operation, and embracing technology has become the most natural path to success. Technology wouldn't advance if there weren't a need or use found while on this evolutionary path in technology.

When I first heard about what SurveyAnalytics had to offer, I was ecstatic to have a place where I could collect infinite data and easily organize and review what my metrics looked like. The only challenge I found, was that I still needed to transfer our paper-collected data into my SurveyAnalytics account.

I remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if I could skip the data transfer process from paper to my SurveyAnalytics account?". It was near this time when SurveyAnalytics released a mobile application that would allow me to collect data from my iPhone/iTouch/iPad anywhere! Silly as it may seem, my heart fluttered at having the technology I needed.

Then, I was met with a situation I didn't expect. My organization is mobile and we visit other organizations to give our services. Since many of these organizations are confidential, I would sometimes not have access to WiFi on my device. Those were times when I would reach for those inefficient (and paper-wasting) surveys.

Alas, SurveyAnalytics' mobile application evolved into SurveyPocket. SurveyPocket now met all of my  needs by incorporating online surveys and offline surveys! SurveyPocket enables offline surveys which I absolutely love because I don't need to depend on always having internet access. Once I do have internet, I simply upload the surveys I've taken offline to my SurveyAnalytics account online.

To summarize, with so much work to do in running a nonprofit, why not take away hours, or even days, of tedious data entry for analysis? I'm excited to be on both sides of this project, in helping SurveyPocket's evolution by helping to develop the product, and by reaping the benefits for my nonprofit. Embrace technology, you can save a lot of time for the things in life that matter to you most.
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