Impact Data Chat Series: Year in Review

December 21, 2022

We had a productive year of holding our Impact Data Chat Series. In 2022, we held 5 events and brought together hundreds of people across the philanthropic, nonprofit, investor, corporate and evaluation communities. We did deep dives into:

  • Storytelling with data
  • Data to track sustainability 
  • Using data to support fundraising
  • Data visualizations for social impact, and
  • Using data for advocacy  

In order to support resource sharing on monitoring, evaluation and learning in the social impact sector, we compiled this list resources from the 5 events. Check out the methods, tools, and theoretical frameworks that can support us to identify, track and measure more impactful and actionable insights when it comes to the social and climate issues we all care about.


Methodological Toolkits/Guides

  • Behavioral Health Design Playbook: Created by the Board of Innovation, this playbook provides a behavioral design framework to achieve patient-centric solutions with a unique perspective. Along with tools to identify value propositions that challenge the status quo and create systemic impact.
  • InsightShare. Participatory video and storytelling for impact.
  • Participatory photography is a really useful method, particularly for stakeholders who might communicate better in ways other than speech (e.g. hearing impaired).
  • Heather Krauss, Data Equity framework. We all count   
  • Data Feminism is a book by Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein. “It offers strategies for data scientists seeking to learn how feminism can help them work toward justice, and for feminists who want to focus their efforts on the growing field of data science.”
  • Most Significant Change.
  • Outcome Harvesting.
  • Visualizing Change. A guide for coding and tracking change in stories for donors and nonprofits by Alexandra Pittman, ImpactMapper Founder and CEO. This was written in 2015, so all visuals are from an earlier version of ImpactMapper, we have a different look and feel now.
  • Participatory Action Research: This approach puts the power of research in the hands of the community you are serving by centering their insights. Training community members allows a greater depth of research as peers are able to obtain information that researchers are not.
  • Case Study on Covid’s impact globally and in India from Empower
  • MIT JPAL: Accessible methodological resource designed for those who run programs with large scale evaluations and training for randomized controlled trials. J-PAL Courses

Measurement Resources

Data Visualization Books and Resources

Online Visualization Websites with Examples and Tips

‍Examples of ‍Storytelling Through Art, Visualization & Video

  • Interesting project with John Seely Brown
  • Example of an artist that collected gum and cigarette butts and used that DNA data to create portraits of strangers and put this into a museum - the project was called Stranger Vision!
  • Johnny Harris' YouTube videos present a variety of quantitative and qualitative data in a compelling visual presentation. He is a skilled storyteller.  

Software tools for mapping and impact analysis

Internal Organizational Tools

Tools that can be implemented internally to better resource and track progress and ultimately, impact.

  • A Newsletter: a simple monthly newsletter to highlight impacts your company has made. This can be sent externally but also internally to motivate and increase transparency among departments and team members. 
  • Microportal on Website: Space on your website to share articles and resources and document old and new lessons. This ensures a list of resources that can be referred to to learn about the space and also ensures new team members do not miss out on lessons from the past. 
  • What We Learn Newsletter: A periodic outlet to share articles, evaluations, initiatives around your learning agenda. Materials are produced by you, but can also be curated from partners or thought leaders. Example: What We Learn - Jacobs Foundation

Ways to Present and Visualize Data

Resources and strategies shared in the Impact Data Chat for presenting data to support fundraising efforts. 

  • Understand the difference between data visualization vs. data presentation. A great resource is Stephanie Evergreen 
  • Infographics and Creative visualization of a problem or social issue: Creative visuals that surface issues and data trends can be used to illustrate the depth of a problem to inspire people to take action. For example Mona Chalabi visualizes research and data related to current social conversations  in artistic, fun and creative ways that inform, create awareness and also encourage you to take action.                                    
  • Framing the unmet demand: Visuals that show need and unmet demand and that give clear action steps. Philanthropy’s Response to the Call for Racial Justice has a great example of this, showing the mismatch between pledges and allocations in funding flows.
  • Case studies: Case studies, and especially visual impact stories, can help organizations tell their story in a data driven way that humanizes their key wins. You can use quotes, videos and contextualize  impact numbers, adding voice and character to traditional reporting. Here are some examples of case studies that ImpactMapper has produced to show the power of impact storytelling through visual case studies.
  • Articulating your value and unique contributions: to a change process with stories and data. The ImpactMapper Evaluation of Charge, uses data trends and case studies of businesses to illustrate their unique contributions.
  • Vignettes: Quotes and vignettes can be a powerful way to show how lives have changed through the #interventions that you are seeking funding for. You can use key quotes from nonprofit leaders, sharing life stories or stories of impact. An example can be found in the Report on the Personal Status of Women in Westchester.
  • One Page Summary:  Create a one page visual summary to communicate report or evaluation key findings These documents are effective when they are not dense with text and instead have graphics 
  • Using learning exchanges to build relationships
  • In person exchanges allow groups to articulate impact and lessons learned in more meaningful and contextualized ways compared to reports. 
  • Interactions allows for relationship building between #funders and #grantees and opens the door for honest engagement and stronger collaboration.
  • For an example of these learning exchanges, see the Learning Exchange
  • In addition, ImpactMapper holds learning events at their retreat center Havn in the Norwegian fjords.

Tips from the Community:

In addition to sharing resources, we had a great discussion around tips when conducting evaluations for impact. 
  • Get back to basics of gathering data that can be used and that provides insights on strategy and implementation.
  • Stop producing logic models or theories of change that are too detailed and do not give you the data you need to make decisions on:
               -your strategy
               -how you might implement more effectively
               -how you might engage, advocate and be influential in the ecosystem
               -connect with the right communities and partners to make change happen
               -make sure to define terms, especially in cross-cultural and cross-national evaluation or research work.
  • Terms and language matters.Translations can change the meaning of concepts and outcomes you want to track. Linguistic, cultural and social barriers to effective measurement are all issues that we need to have on our minds when we're working cross culturally. Some steps you can take include
  • Engage the participation of stakeholders/communities at multiple phases, but especially in the designing phase of the overarching theory of change/logframe. 
  • Engage the community when you're developing instruments to make sure that you have definitional issues and measures aligned with the community's understanding. 
  • Create processes for people to define success on their own terms without necessarily having indicators come from the top down. 
  • Use all of your data, especially the qualitative data.
  • Tips on translating qualitative data into quantitative data in this manual written by Alexandra Pittman

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