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Inciter | Blog
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Quarantine Data Project: Four Things You Can Do Now to Be a Stronger Organization on the Other Side of This

At the risk of adding more peer pressure to be productive right now, I wanted to propose to those of you responsible for the data maturity of your organization (this includes CTOs, CIOs, database managers, data analysts, and other data nerds) that there ARE things you can do right now, in the middle of all this, that will make your organization stronger when it’s all over. You might be feeling like you can’t possibly move forward with anything data-related, because of uncertainty ahead. But, this could be the perfect time to tackle things you normally don’t have time for. A month or two from now, everyone currently cleaning their garages and handling all those long put off home repair projects will look around and, if nothing else, have a cleaner,...

Data Cleaning in Excel 101, Part 1: Three methods for removing blank rows (without deleting anything important!)

At Inciter, we use many tools to clean data. Google Sheets and Excel are widely available and powerful tools for basic data cleaning of small to medium data sets. In this series, we will describe different methods for cleaning data that have common problems such as blank rows, duplicates, multiple values in one column, data split into too many columns, leading zeroes, numbers that don’t act like numbers, basic data recoding, and comparing two versions of a spreadsheet. Method #1: Sort them out.Excel’s column sort function won’t order blank cells. If it makes sense to organize your data by a certain column, (i.e. date from newest to oldest), you can sort the entire sheet and watch the completely blank rows fall off. Just be sure all of your data is...

How to Feel Better. Just a Little.

I’ve always been fascinated with neuroscience and how our brains work. Mine, especially. So last year, because I apparently can’t stop going back to school, I got a certificate in brain-based coaching from the Neuroleadership Institute. What I learned there about how our brains work got me thinking about how they are responding to the current situation with COVID-19. I thought it might be helpful to share some reasons why you may be feeling the way you are (aside from the obvious) and present just a few things you could do to help your brain calm down, and to help you and everyone around you feel a bit better while getting through this pandemic. To get extra help and insight, I contacted Dr. Fran Appler, a licensed psychologist who has...

When Is Building a Form the Wrong Answer?

One of our core values here at Inciter is “Get it Done”. When our clients email us, we email them back. When they have a problem, whether it’s a messy data set or help thinking through their data strategy, we show up. So when a client that is using our data system asked me the other day to build a form for them, my first thought was, “You’ve got it!”. I asked them what the form should look like, and thought about how it connected to the rest of their data. Not just the data in our system but all the data they collect and use. This client is part of a collaborative effort that involves many other nonprofit organizations and government agencies. They all have to work together not only...

Data Maturity Part II: How Grown Up Are You?

Data Maturity StagesIn Part I of this blog series, I introduced the concept of data maturity, its importance to organizations, and steps for becoming data mature. Today, we’ll tackle the ways in which organizations can be thought of as existing in different stages of data maturity and how you may move through them. Particularly relative to reporting, knowing where you are on the data maturity scale will help you identify the right approach and the right tools to move forward. Early Phases: Piloting and Building Phase I: Piloting (Infancy)Your data is new and cute, but you can’t really leave it alone when you go out for dinner. You may be collecting some basic data, but you haven’t created a data strategy and made clear decisions about what you are collecting and why....

Data Maturity Part I

I was introduced to the term “data maturity” by Karen Graham, Maddie Grant, and Jenn Taylor at their 2019 GoodTech Fest presentation. (If you don’t know about GoodTech Fest, check out my blog post on it here and consider going in 2020! It’s a great, reality-based conference about measuring what matters in the nonprofit sector.)I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of data maturity, and how we can help organizations build capacity to provide data for themselves and to funders. I think about this all the time, of course, but data maturity provides another, very useful concept to hang some ideas on. It got me thinking about why some of our clients seem able to collect and use data better than others, and also about what it takes for...

Getting Your Data System to Play Well with Others

Data integration isn’t always a high tech solution. Sometimes, it’s more about just combining some new cutting edge tools, with your existing data management strategies, in order to create a system that pulls everything together. (And data systems can play well with others without having to tangle with any "playground bullies", either.) One of our clients had a data integration challenge that we encounter almost every day. They were working with several partners to collect information about human trafficking victims throughout the county. Some partners were child welfare agencies, some were domestic violence shelters, some provided legal services, etc. All of them had their own ways of collecting and reporting on data, based on their own purposes. Our client needed information from all of those providers so that they could...

EYEO 2019

What is EYEO?EYEO is a festival held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I say festival because it involves not only top notch international speakers, but also things like karaoke, playing with arts and crafts, trying out virtual reality experiments, and going to cool places like Aria and the Machine Shop. It’s changed a bit over the years, as it featured more information visualization and interactive art speakers early on, versus more machine learning and artificial intelligence speakers in these last couple of years. No matter what topic is featured, I always come away from EYEO with inspiration and insights, true to their tag line “Converge to Inspire”. In case you didn’t want to hang out in the Walker (very cool building) and hear about building free-form circuit sculptures...

Good Tech Fest 2019

Inciter on the RoadFor the last few years I’ve been looking for a conference where folks who love technology, data, and social services come together to talk about how to collect the right information to improve lives and change the world by finding better ways to collect and analyze data related to outcomes. GoodTech Fest is it. What is GoodTech Fest?GoodTech Fest is a conference for those doing real life, applied work in the social sector. It’s a great mix of technology nerds and data geeks (both intentional and accidental) and practitioners. The conference speakers do a great job of making all three areas -- tech, data, social practice -- accessible. Topics are strategic and practical at the same time. This year that included things such as how to ensure...

How to Have Great Data: When People and Technology Both Do Their Part

 The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Getting Great Data Week. All posts on AEA365 this week are contributed by evaluators who came together to write about the theme of getting data that is accurate, timely and, most of all, useful. Our own Taj Carson contributed this timely post: https://aea365.org/blog/getting-great-data-week-how-to-have-great-data-when-people-and-technology-both-do-their-part-by-taj-carson/ We hope you'll check it out and let us know what you think!...