In the era of massive data collection and analysis, the subject of data transparency is often mentioned. ‘Data transparency’ refers to the practice of making inputs or data flows visible to donors, stakeholders, project partners, different departments, and possibly the public. In recent years, it has shifted from an abstract ideal to a necessary component of any successful social impact enterprise. In fact, nonprofit database Guidestar reported in 2019 that transparent nonprofits average 53% more in contributions and perform strongly across a range of dimensions. However, the benefits of transparency extend far beyond donor relations. Operational transparency can improve existing practices, connect organizations with partners in the same space, and maximize social impact by working hand in hand with partners and the community.
Over the last several months, government agencies across the US at the state, county, and city level have launched COVID-19 dashboards to provide up-to-date information about the pandemic in specific regions. However, there are notable differences in functionality, transparency, and overall effectiveness among dashboards.
Data is the fuel of the digital economy. But the benefits of good data extends well beyond businesses: data is essential to the productivity and success of modern for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, while 90% of nonprofits collect some data, “almost half say they aren’t fully aware of the ways data can (and does) impact their work.”
To better understand the applications of data for socially-impactful organizations, social sector experts have categorized data into two types: “data for action” and “data for impact.”