Data Love

This month, I’ve noticed a passel of wonderful new data sources online. I’ve compiled a handful that I find particularly fascinating and new — and a couple that are tried-and-true:

One that falls in the former category is the City Health Dashboard, which shares out data for fully 500 U.S. cities. There are 36 measures grouped into social & economic factors ( e.g., housing affordability, racial & ethnic segregation), physical environment, health behaviors, health outcomes, and clinical care.

If you’re looking for inspiration (or qualitative data), check out the Solutions Story Tracker, a curated collection of nearly 3,500 stories that tell of responses to social problems, from agriculture to sports, and including community development, philanthropy, religion–on and on! Yowza. No one has to be without a case study or inspiring example ever again.

A more bite-sized report and not a searchable database, but a new publication that I’ve been reflecting on since I spent a little time with it last week, is the latest from the Center for Civil Society Studies, led by mastermind Lester Salamon: “Nonprofits: America’s Third Largest Resource.” The nonprofit sector is the third-largest workforce among 18 U.S. industries; in fact, in 24 states plus DC, nonprofits employ MORE workers than all the branches of manufacturing combined! Don’t just take my word for it; there’s just something about seeing the graphics that show the magnitude and, thereby, the importance of the nonprofit sector that gives one pause. Well worth a download and a few minutes to absorb.

The Nonprofit Finance Fund has produced its “2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey” results. With 3,400 responses, the data is very rich. It’s presented in seven different sections with several filters, allowing for myriad variations of results. For example, you can really drill down into data on the nonprofits that plan to increase staff or do more collaboration, and so on. I’ll be circling back to this one!

Last, I’ll mention two additional reports that fall into the aforementioned tried-and-true category. I refer to these regularly because they are so imminently practical: BoardSource‘s “Leading With Intent” which covers nonprofit board practices, and Exponent Philanthropy‘s “2018 Foundation Operations & Management Report,” a title that, at first glance, seems nicely descriptive, but doesn’t really do justice to the scope and breadth of data. Both are laden with benchmarking data from straightforward descriptive indicators such as expense ratios, through dynamics, behaviors, and strategies, all the way to culture, impact, and leadership.

Full disclosure: I developed the survey and edited the data report for Exponent. That work built on the efforts of other terrific deep thinkers, including Carmen Wong. This report is a wonderful resources for academics and researchers, for fundraisers wanting to understand the field or small-staffed foundations, and, naturally, for small-staffed foundations themselves.

I could go on and on, but these are the sources that I either currently turn to most or want to keep foremost in mind. Enjoy!

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