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Blog - Inciter
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Give Us Your Tired

Four Reasons You and Your Staff are Burnt Out and Three Ways to Bounce Back(This blog was co-authored with Derek Kessen of On Center Consulting)Nonprofits are in survival mode. You work every weekend, you give everything to your clients and leave nothing for yourself, you can’t give anymore and yet it’s not enough.Systems don’t work, the team is unhappy, and the community isn’t sure we’ll be there when they need us. There’s never enough time or money to fix it, so we just hold on until tomorrow.Does this sound like you?Is your donor management system so confusing that when the 2020 Blackbaud hack happened, you couldn’t find your login to figure out whether you were impacted?Do you have social workers trying to be human google maps while answering the reception...

Never Endure Another Data Migration

“We need a new data system”. The stuff of dreams and nightmares. Whether you aren’t storing the right data in your system, or you can’t get what you want out of it, you either have considered a new data system, or you were in the process of implementing one.So you got everyone on board, figured out what you needed out of a data system, did an inventory of your current systems, lined up the funding, and now …it’s taking twice as long and costing twice as much as you planned.These are the things we see all the time:You have a set budget, and it’s a one-time spend. You get bids from vendors, or even from your IT department and halfway through the project whoever is building it tells you it...

Data Visualization Design Tip: Using a Style Guide

Everybody Needs Style. Why You Need a Style Guide for Your Data Visualization.We are big fans of efficiency at Inciter. We like to make our lives easier, and we LOVE to make your lives easier. If you are doing any kind of data visualization, this post will save you time and a lot of annoyance. And who doesn't love to improve their data visualization design?What is a Style Guide?A style guide is a document that describes, defines and presents examples of how you should use style elements when communicating. For the Accountable Health Communities Model evaluation we did with RTI, we developed a style guide that would essentially create a brand for the project throughout it’s life, as well as allow us to have clear standards for design related to...

Why Nonprofits Fail to Make the Most of Their Donors

You love your donors and you want them to love you. You craft amazing campaigns. Powerful messages, moving stories, carefully constructed asks. You believe in your mission and you are very good at connecting with others who do, too. But you aren’t getting the donations that you need, and you keep losing donors. It’s like your donations are a leaky bucket. You work harder and harder, create more campaigns, reach out to more people, but you can’t keep the donors you’ve got or raise as much as you need to. You are not alone. Only sixty-three percent of organizations meet their fundraising goals. The average nonprofit is missing out on over three and a half MILLION dollars in donations because they aren’t maximizing their data. Information about your donors and campaigns is all...

Tools to Make Data Cleaning Easier

Cleaning, wrangling, munging, preparation, validation, ETL, transformation, ELT… these are all different names for “making data more useful.” Whether you’re doing one-off analysis, scheduled reports analytics, or integrating two different data systems or applications, when you work with data, data cleaning is an important part of almost all data processes. Data cleaning is taking data as-is and changing the content, structure or format to be more useful. Removing blank rows and deleting invalid addresses are examples of data cleaning. Data cleaning can be the most laborious part of a data analysis project. At Inciter, we use tools to streamline the process and save us hours of tedious work.There are a seemingly endless number of tools to assist in the process of data cleaning. Some of them can only be used...

Evaluating Accessibility and Inclusion

Over the past several months, Inciter has been pleased to work on a project with a summer camp network. The goal of the network is to enhance accessibility and inclusion for campers and staff with disabilities by providing capital improvements, professional development, staff training, research, and evaluation to both participating camps and the field at-large.In many ways the project is similar to the other program evaluations that we work on with organizations, foundations, and agencies - large and small. We began this project by discussing the goals for the initiative and its theory of change, defined key camp audiences and stakeholder groups, and developed measurable indicators to direct instrumentation of data collection.While we’re no strangers to evaluations involving complex constructs (check out our posts about evaluating advocacy efforts, for example),...

5 Mistakes That Kill Survey Data (and How to Avoid Them)

Whether you are getting feedback from program participants, members, donors or other stakeholders, an online survey can be the easiest and most efficient way to do it. Of course, online surveys are not a one size fits all solution for collecting data to answer your burning questions, but they can be a cost effective method to gather certain data for your organization. No matter your field or audience, you have to follow some best practices if you want to make use of your data.At Inciter, we develop surveys for a variety of reasons. And if you already have a survey but think you could be doing more with it, we can help you clean up your instrument and fine tune your questions, too. By asking good questions about what...

Ask These 5 Questions Before Changing Databases

You want data at your fingertips, when you need it, in the right format. Who doesn’t? But often when you go to get reports, the data is siloed and you can’t bring it together, or some of it’s missing, or it’s not accurate, or you don’t know what to make of it. Maybe you think technology is the answer. It’s understandable. Machine learning. Artificial intelligence. Big data. There is all this amazing technology out there that can make cleaning, analyzing and reporting on data so much easier. Data warehouses, data lakes, and pipelines make it easier to bring all those siloes together into one place without making everyone use a new data system. While these tools can do amazing things, if you don’t have your ducks in a row in terms...

What is Sketchnoting and Why Should You Try It?

Tired and unfocused during long meetings? I’m going to help you with that.Last week, I had a seven hour Zoom conference call, with about 20 people in it. (I know. I know.) It was necessary, and all parties were actively engaged, and needed to be. This was an author’s retreat for a large research project, where Inciter is serving as the data visualization team. It was important that I stay engaged, not space out, and listen to the findings, the nuances, the decisions people were making. Because I knew I would be called on to do sketches later in the meeting and help them think through how to represent some of the findings.But it’s hard. I don’t think of myself as someone with a squirrel brain, but during meetings that...

Data Cleaning in Excel 101, Part 8: Final Summary & Data Cleaning Guide

This is the eighth and final post in our Data Cleaning in Excel blog post series. As the series comes to a close, we’d like to take an opportunity to organize and recap material we’ve covered. We’ll review some of the useful Excel functions we’ve used, and provide some guidance for incorporating the techniques into your data cleaning routine.Every dataset has its own issues. Our posts in this series have been written to address ad-hoc common problems. We advise referencing this post as you go through your data with the understanding that not everything here will be applicable to your dataset. Also, keep in mind that you’ll always run into unique challenges, and this isn’t an exhaustive list of commands for squeaky-clean data.When you’re presented with a raw, messy sheet...