Adding Capacity with Data

At the Christopher Family Foundation we mostly offer grant support to partner organizations that match the Foundation mission and funding focuses. But we also try to include support for grantee capacity, when we can see a way to do so for multiple recipients in a way that would be more efficient than if each one attempted to obtain the service individually.

Before Covid, this meant an occasional gathering in which we’d bring in expertise in board development, or individual donor cultivation, and offer a little nourishment, fellowship, and information for any grantee partner who found the subject meaningful. We hope to resume that kind of programming on some more confident day in the future.

Two years ago, we also began a partnership with UpMetrics. UpMetrics is a data analysis and visualization tool designed for nonprofit use. Originally built for schools, it has expanded its application in recent years to allow many different types of program operations to benefit from the clear insight that consistent data collection and a solid visualization dashboard can provide. One grantee partner currently making use of the tool is the Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC).  Danielle Soska shared that “UpMetrics has helped us to better understand our clients, so that we can ensure that our programs are equitable and impactful. Being able to disaggregate our data by factors such as race, gender, or conviction status helps us to identify and examine barriers, challenges, and successes that trainees may experience in our program.”

Now that we’ve piloted the tool with a few grantees over two years, we think we have some insight into the best partners for it. As with Goldilocks, they can be neither too big nor too small. The just right partner is an organization that can benefit from greater insight from data–thus, small enough not to have a dashboard/analytics tool already in place–and big enough to have someone other than the CEO/Executive Director devoted to making use of the tool.

Next year we intend to offer the tool to four partners. Two existing partners will renew their use, and two new ones will be added to the UpMetrics cohort. Participation means that the tool will be available at Foundation expense. Participants are asked to make the time to share their learning with each other and with the Foundation in three to four one-hour check-in calls annually. We’d also really like to see your data dashboards when they’re ready. We like data.

To help those two new cohort members identify themselves, we’ll be offering an opportunity to learn more about UpMetrics and to hear from our two existing users, JARC and Lawrence Hall. The session will be offered on Zoom, on Tuesday, October 25 at 10:00am Central Time. If you’d like to take part, please register here.

We’ll ask our partners to self-nominate for the two available slots by emailing us directly after that meeting. Interested partners who are not selected for this year will be added to the list for the future.