Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque Puts Data to Work
Contact: Jenna Manders
For immediate release
The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has received a grant for $180,000 over three years from a generous funder that will help build a “culture of data” to drive its work in creating community-level social change.
With the grant, the Community Foundation is positioned to be a leader in data-informed decision-making. Data collection and analysis will help inform the Foundation’s initiatives and partners as they work to develop innovative, localized solutions to complex community challenges across the seven-county Greater Dubuque region.
“Improving our collection and use of data makes us a stronger organization, because it helps us glean important feedback about our community’s greatest needs and the impact of our work,” said Community Foundation president and CEO Nancy Van Milligen. “That’s what makes this grant so important. We can harness the power of data to improve lives — and train other nonprofits to do the same.”
Grant enables new opportunities
With reliable, relevant and accessible localized data, nonprofit and community leaders are able to make fully informed strategic planning decisions in order to best serve their constituents. The new grant will enable several key strategies, including:
- Development and maintenance of a hyper-local, searchable databank. This tool will allow the Foundation and the broader community to leverage data to evaluate services and programs and target areas of greatest need with the appropriate resources.
- Production of a biennial, interactive community indicators report that can be used by local leaders and stakeholders to support grant-writing and program planning.
- The continuation of the Foundation’s Greater Dubuque Data Walk, which in its first year engaged a diverse cross-section of community leaders in conversation around critical issues in the community.
- Data training workshops to help the Community Foundation’s partners enhance their capacity for collecting and analyzing data and use data to inform decision-making.
Data makes change possible
Infusing data into decision-making will ultimately help improve quality of life throughout the region.
For example, nonprofits will be able to effectively track program outcomes and effectiveness of services; policymakers can use data to generate support for critical tax, welfare, health and employment policies; and donors and investors can see how local investment opportunities might generate financial and social returns, helping them leverage philanthropy and funding mechanisms with minimal risk and maximum community impact.
The Community Foundation uses data to inform its own work. Recent data collection efforts include two needs assessments in 2016 focused on child care and mental health services. The foundation has found that having thorough data available has accelerated work to address the needs and gaps identified by those assessments.
The Community Foundation has also found compiling reliable and comprehensive data from local, regional, state and federal data sources and stakeholders to be a rigorous process, thus identifying the need to support data collection and the staff who do this work.
“Data allows us to understand current conditions, identify problems, set goals, and track progress for sustained impact. Data can support all aspects of a nonprofit’s or community group’s work – from their operations to communications to program delivery,” said Jenna Manders, knowledge management director at the Community Foundation. “The Community Foundation must support the nonprofit sector in collecting data that can be shared and analyzed.”