Using Data to Tell Your Story with Impact: July’s Executive Director Roundtable Wrap-Up

Kevin Klingbeil knows data. As managing director of Big Water Consulting, a Global Washington member, he works with a range of clients, from small non-profits to government agencies to tribal groups, to assist them with incorporating meaningful data and visual data mapping into their daily operations.

“Big Water Consulting seeks to provide long-term, capacity-building solutions, rather than one-off projects and quick fixes to systematic problems,” said Klingbeil. “We make concerted efforts to respect and embrace each of our clients’ organizational and cultural values to ensure the most advantageous and sustainable outcome.”

Klingbeil presented about data collection, utilization and presentation at Global Washington’s July Executive Director Roundtable. He started the conversation by asking, “How do you measure impact and define success in your organization?” Klingbeil asked this question so that he could get to the “how,” because he knows that it’s the “how” where many organizations fall short. He cautioned that relying on words or vague phrases like “dramatic improvement” or “meaningful” and “significant” as a means of conveying the reach of an organization could do more harm than good. That is why Klingbeil and his firm advocate for the use of data in an organization’s narrative to create an image that is honest and transparent.

using-data-to-tell-your-storyThroughout the course of the conversation, Klingbeil emphasized the importance of data driven results and how multidimensional they are, both internally and externally. He spoke about targeted data in relation to organizational productivity, donor visibility and internal decision-making. Roundtable attendees agreed that the best approach to data implementation is to start small and collect thoughtfully.

Funders’ interests were also woven into the data dialogue. Because statistics and figures don’t lie and often reveal the various successes and shortcomings of organizations and programs, it is smart to show funders that there is a clear data collection and analysis model set up to evaluate the impact of projects, according to Klingbeil.

A few things Klingbeil and other members of the roundtable discussion said should be considered when executing data collection:

Targeted Data: The Implementation Cycle
Big Water Consulting has developed a data implementation cycle that can be replicated and catered to the needs of an organization. This framework includes useful resources and questions to think about.

Klingbeil and his Big Water Consulting team encourage a thoughtful and humanist approach to data collection. Monitoring and evaluation does not need to be a daunting task, even for small non-profits. It is doable, beneficial and, these days, necessary. With the addition of data, an organization’s narrative can really come to life.

Global Washington holds Executive Director Roundtables monthly to invite leaders of member organizations to convene and share experiences and information. Through these roundtable discussions, members have the opportunity to gain new knowledge and perspectives from others in Washington State’s global development community.