Since COVID-19 hit the U.S., we’ve seen record numbers of people seeking social services. Thirty-eight states don’t have enough social workers to meet the demand requirements of the people they serve. Community need is outpacing capacity to deliver services. And people of color are disproportionately impacted.

We recently brought three social good organizations serving the Los Angeles community—A Place Called Home, Da Vinci RISE High School and Fulfillment Fund—and special guest, Steve Ballmer, co-founder of Ballmer Group Philanthropy, together to discuss the importance of collecting equitable data-driven insights and working together to respond to community needs and transform lives. This conversation revealed five tangible practices that social good organizations and funders can implement now to collect equitable data and elevate community collaboration.

  1. Use data as a form of listening By listening to what the people you serve are telling you through the surveys they complete and the conversations they engage in, you can quickly pivot programs to address changing needs.
  2. Ask the right questions To implement equitable, community-driven data and ethical evaluation practices, it helps to take a step back, think outside the box, and identify and question assumptions.
  3.  Empower program participants By giving program participants access to their information and ownership of their progress, you promote self-agency and self-advocacy while fostering goal setting and family engagement.
  4. Prioritize information technology Our panelists and Ballmer agree that lasting operational infrastructures that support information technology are game changing in the social sector, particularly when it comes to community impact. No one organization can solve community programs—we all need to work together.
  5. Push for data that measures outcomes Rather than focusing on outputs like how many people are served, focus efforts on outcomes such as clear paths to upward mobility.

Read the full article about data collection for collective impact Social Solutions.