Alan Zhao

May 01, 2016

Do Good Data Talk

I had the opportunity to speak at the 2016 DoGoodData conference on how nonprofits should think about their capacity to utilize data, with a special focus on the small nonprofits that use Excel for everything. It was titled Building an Analytical Toolkit Beyond Excel and well received. The final slides are below.

This talk was done in conjunction with my good friend (and now former co-worker) Jeremy James. The talk was the result of many years of working the data trenches at our nonprofit and the with the many lessons learned as a result. In a nutshell, we talked about how many nonprofits get excited about the end results of using data effectively: the analysis, insights, and visuals. This excitement usually overshadows the foundational work of collecting and storing data such that aforementioned exciting stuff can happen. This isn't helped by sales driven companies that promise that their software can unlock your data no matter what. We recommended carefully evaluating the state of your needs and data infrastructure, and then picking the appropriate tool to address that.

The room was packed showing that moving beyond Excel is a task many nonprofits face and feel. My favorite moments from the talk: getting a good laugh when we shared how long our database development took (much longer than expected) and hearing one attendee tell us that this talk was the reason he came to the conference.

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