Using Data to Maximize Impact: A Nonprofit Success Story

Posted: October 9th 2017

Over the summer, Community Foundation intern, Taylor Dodson, sat down with Paige Wilkins, Executive Director of local non-profit Healthier Moms and Babies, to find out more about how they use data to drive their mission. Here’s what she had to share about nonprofit data and how to utilize it!

Healthier Moms and Babies’ mission is to reduce infant mortality and improve the outcome of pregnancy in Allen County by offering health education and case management services to low-income, high-risk pregnant women and their families. In order to focus their efforts for maximum efficacy, they use data from the many zip codes around Allen County to properly educate their staff and hone in on the biggest issues low-income moms and babies are facing in our community.

By analyzing the data, Healthier Moms and Babies’ has found each zip code has its own “big need,” ranging from high infant mortality rates, to high poverty levels, to lack of access to Medicaid. Each “big need” is then broken down by age and race to better understand who needs help the most. Then, Healthier Moms and Babies’ is able to use the data to drive highly specific outreach initiatives in each zip code aimed at increasing new referrals. Using data to drive their mission changes the work they do by allowing them to narrow their focus and improve birth outcomes.

Many people think good data speaks for itself, but Paige knows that the timeliness of data plays a big role in how effective and useful the data is to driving effective strategy. A lot of the data they have access to is older than they would like it to be. Unfortunately, only data and statistics gathered by Medicaid and the Department of Health are renewed often enough to be beneficial. In order to fill in the gaps, Healthier Moms and Babies’ gathers and analyzed their own data from the clients they serve.

Deciding what data is statistically relevant is one of the most important factors in effectively educating new and expectant moms. For example; young /first time moms get more education on signs of preterm birth and the amount of pre-birth visits they need to attend, obese moms get more education on prenatal nutrition, and mothers living in poverty get education on ways to support their child properly from their position.

I asked Paige if she had any advice for non-profits, she simply said: Do your research! Research your topics, wants, and needs in your community. Using data to drive your mission can help you improve your work and find the right demographic. It’s not always easy – in fact, Paige explained it as “finding a needle in a haystack,” but incorporating data into your organization to drive more effective results can certainly help drive your mission and take your impact to the next level!

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