Redefining What Matters

24.08.22 06:13 PM By Andrew Remillard

Does your mission and your data align?

Age, gender, zip code, race, ethnicity, assessment scores, attendance. These are all singular pieces that make up a person’s story. Put enough of those pieces together across a few people and you have a data set. Make a few collections of those pieces over time and now you have something powerful.


One of the most common challenges I encounter when talking with our partners is how can you create and use a data set that dives deeper than race and zip code to not only satisfy reporting requirements from current and potential funders but drive real change and progress?

A first step is taking stock of your organization’s mission and vision.  As it pertains to your “Why?”, are you aiming your data collection at an outcome you want to change and an outcome your funders are interested in? Often, we find data collection is centered around the needs of the funders with our organizations finding benefits from their mandated data set. When your data collection is mission driven, the information being gathered tends to be focused and meaningful.  It becomes easier to get your team and families rallied around the process of putting good data into your collection tools.  And, as we all know: good data in, good data out.

Another major step is reconsidering family and community engagement. Families are the real guiding light of the organizations we partner with.  They provide insight into the real factors effecting their lives and access to that insight is only available through trust.  Collecting data that is meaningful to real people who allow you into their lives and being able to provide feedback to the community bolsters support from those to matter most.  It also creates the opportunity to move the needle with funders by having the voice of the community behind your work. 

Our CBO partners always have a great story to tell.  Combining clean, meaningful data with real evidence from the people they are serving, powered by their belief in their mission, creates a megaphone to get funders and policy makers to listen to their story.  For a stellar example of this work in action, check out the COMET Success Story for the GROW program here in Rochester.  The GROW team has used the collective voices for the families they serve to guide their scaling to all children, 12-60 months, over a 13 county region of Western New York while drawing in funders that range from insurance companies to New York State Office of Children and Families.

Andrew Remillard