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Secrets from the Data Cave: November 2014

by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!Visualizing Nonprofit Data: Tell the Real Story by Using Your Program Knowledge (This blog post originally appeared last month as a guest post for the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.) Many nonprofit organizations rely on in-house staff members to crunch numbers and create reports for their program data. This means that, in some cases, those who are inexperienced at turning heaps of...

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Secrets from the Data Cave, October 2014

by Sarah McCrudenWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!Access vs. Excel: Which Will Reign Supreme (for your storage needs)Access and its less showy cousin, Excel, are both good options for data storage. In this installment of Secrets from the Data Cave, I'll highlight some things to consider when deciding between using Excel and Access for your data storage needs.I should start by saying that Excel CAN do a lot...

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What I did on my summer vacation

by Jill Scheibler [caption id="attachment_1451" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Hint: It involved both literal and metaphorical roller coasters.[/caption]Today— with suntans fading and schools back in full swing— it's a few days into fall and I can definitely feel it! It's gloomy outside and I'd like nothing more than to revisit my summer vacation.In my role at CRC I wear a number of different “evaluation hats”, and otherwise keep busy throughout the year teaching courses at a local university and directing a small arts nonprofit called Make Studio. When summer rolls around I am very eager to escape my not-quite-9-definitely-later-than-5 schedule for some fresh air and sunshine. Yet I don’t necessarily want to shut off my brain or escape the things that excite me about my work.So, this year I went to summer camp...

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Supernatural FX Showreel

Remember the first time you went to a show and saw your favorite band. You wore their shirt, and sang every word. You didn't know anything about scene, haircuts, or what was cool. All you knew was that this music made you feel different from anyone you shared a locker with. Someone finally understood you. This is what music is about....

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Baltimore Data and Evaluation Meetup

  The Baltimore Data and Evaluation Meetup, recently created by CRC, is a group for people working at nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies who are interested in collecting and using data to improve their programs. Whether you are trying to figure out where to start, wrestling with providing data to funders, figuring out what outcomes you should be measuring, or analyzing and reporting on the data you already collect, this meetup is for you. All levels of expertise are welcome. Participants will discuss the issues they are facing and share ideas and resources in order to practically solve problems. At least one skilled evaluation professional will be present at every session. We are hoping to develop a group where people from different organizations can bring questions about evaluation, share ideas, and...

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CRC’s “Dumbphone” User

by Tracy DusablonEach CRC staff person is assigned a month in which to write a blog – this month it was my turn. At first, I was wracking my brain to come up with something instructive, like in my colleague Sarah’s series Secrets from the Data Cave, or hip like Sheila’s post about Data Driven Detroit. Instead, I decided to write about something  that sets me apart from my co-workers, and tell a little story about our office in the process. The other day I was checking office voicemail online (we have an internet phone system) and came across this funny-looking icon. I noted how non-self-explanatory this icon was and, out of curiosity, asked a few co-workers if they knew what it meant. The conversation went a little something like this:Me:...

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CRC Takes Detroit

By Sheila MatanoThis past week, Taj and I visited Detroit to meet with Erica Raleigh at Data Driven Detroit (D3) and also took some time to explore the city.Data Driven DetroitD3 is a National Neighborhood Indicators Partner (NNIP) and an affiliate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). Created in 2008, D3 houses a comprehensive data system that includes current and historic demographic, socioeconomic, educational, environmental, and other indicators. In addition to providing access to high-quality data, D3 also provides services such as data analysis and data visualization to organizations in Detroit.  For example, they created the One D Scorecard to show how Detroit compares to different regions across the United States. (See other examples of D3’s work.) D3 Building  D3's Mission ShinolaFounded in 2011, Shinola is a Detroit-based company that produces watches, bicycles,...

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EYEO 2014 RECAP

by Sheila MatanoLast week, I attended the EYEO festival for the first time. EYEO is unique in that it brings together experts from a wide variety of fields (e.g. computer science, engineering, data design, cartography, etc.) to showcase their work.  There were a number of great presentations, and below are some of my favorites. Sarah Williams: DigitalMatatus, Visualizing InformalitySarah Williams is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and the Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab employs data visualization and mapping techniques to expose and communicate urban patterns and policy issues to broader audiences. In her presentation, Sarah talked about how her team worked with Kenyan Universities and Nairobi’s growing technology sector to collect...

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Secrets from the Data Cave, May 2014

by Sarah McCrudenWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!May 2014:  The Difficult Database, Part 1: The Data Monster            In my experience working with relational databases, I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the very ugly in data-keeping practices.  I’ve learned a lot about wrangling data in an unruly database. While plenty of problems I see are caused by a complicated combination of elements...

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Contracting 101: Accounting for People

by Kevin MajorosIt was pretty obvious from an early age that I would be working with numbers for a living as an adult. By the time I was seven, I could memorize the bowling averages, games bowled, and pin count totals of all 60 members of my mother’s bowling league.  Every week I would sit at a table in the bowling alley with the league stats in front of me while frightening women with bouffants walked by with questions like, “Hey kid, what do I need to bowl this week to raise my average to 170?”  My mother bowled in three leagues weekly and I always had the answers for any questions about the numbers.My father was the bartender at the same bowling alley and I was allowed to run around...

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