Who doesn’t dream of changing the world? Ah, if only we could all just slip on our identity-concealing spandex to fight the injustices of the planet!
Amanda Babine doesn’t need the spandex. Give her some numbers to crunch and she’ll show you what real superhero strength looks like.
She and her team of self-proclaimed “data nerds” at Evaluate for Change are working to empower nonprofits, charities, and business owners with skills to turn data into success. They provide curriculum, workshops, and personalized advising to truly change the world.
Oh, does this not sound sexy to you? I mean it’s no Batman trilogy. It’s so much better than that!
Learning how to analyze and use your data can directly improve the impact you’re having on the world. You just need to know what to look for and how to interpret it. That’s where Amanda’s brain power comes in.
Case in point: when a child wellness program came to these experts for help evaluating the their health initiatives, the nonprofit gathered data and outcomes that immediately expanded their reach. They used the results to earn new grants, which in turn, allowed the program to expand, diversify, and touch even more lives. And because they had the right information immediately available, they were able to grow in the most strategic way possible.
“Give a woman a fish and you’ll feed her for a day. Teach her to fish and you’ll feed her for a lifetime,” says Amanda. “We’re not consultants. We’re teachers.”
Are you ready to embrace what data evaluation has to offer your mission or brand? Here’s what you have to gain.
Amanda is a graduate of Columbia University. This boss has the credentials to back up her growing reputation as a game-changer. Still, it doesn’t make her exempt from the stereotypes women in her field still face. Evaluate for Change is run by 100% female leadership. They’ve heard it too, that “women aren’t good at math.”
“The majority of the nonprofit world is run by women. They’re too often stereotyped as being more emotional, more focused on feelings over numbers. But, we know this isn’t always true. Data gives women the authority to legitimize their work.”
If you want to fight cultural norms about women in business, data is your secret weapon.
The National Center for Charitable Statistics says there are 1.5 million non-profits registered in the United States. Amanda had full intentions of joining those ranks as a social worker when she was a student. But working in the nonprofit sector quickly revealed to her a sincere need for program evaluation and data analysis skills. So, wanting to improve the system, that’s the path she took.
“Our goal is to train people in organizations to become an advocate. That’s the only way we’re going to enhance the work we do. That is our whole mission,” says Amanda.
Amanda says many charities are limited by their own barriers, unable to see areas that need improvement because they’re busy with day-to-day operations. The research practices Evaluate for Change teaches aim to make these programs more effective and accountable.
Even your donation becomes more powerful when nonprofits begin embracing these concepts.
“We could be conquering a lot more if we’re giving to the right organizations,” says Amanda.
Walk before you fly
Now, are you ready to get started? Amanda suggests starting small. There’s a chance getting down and dirty with numbers will either scare you away or make your eyes glaze over. So, don’t get overwhelmed.
“Begin by defining what success means to your team. First, that might be an outcome: ‘we want the exposure to become a national brand.’ Then, narrow it down to specific benchmarks: ‘how do we get there? How many newsletter sign ups will we need this month? This year?’”
Amanda says taking an inventory of what resources you have and what outputs you meet will help you to keep these benchmarks realistic.
Remember, people are more than numbers
Every superhero, like every social worker and entrepreneur, has a vision of making the world a better place. Of course, we realize this world isn’t made up of numbers. We won’t connect with the people who will benefit from our work by plugging them into a spreadsheet.
“Remembering that people are more than numbers keeps our work human-centered,” says Amanda.
So if you really want to change the world, change your perspective. We challenge the socially-minded to be more analytical, and statisticians to be more compassionate. Maybe the solution to the world’s problems is in the sum of all its parts.
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