5 Antidotes to Data Apathy

There is a fire inside of you that fervently wants to resist the thought: “but that’s the way we’ve always done it.” You crave data, you see the signs, and you know that if that data were to influence the decision-making process in your organization it would be a game changer.

The problem you’re finding is that you are working with people. Real people. People don’t like change — and that includes your coworkers (and maybe you!) — or feel they are too busy to analyze when there is yet another project that needs attention. You have a growing suspicion that there isn’t a true belief that data is useful and that most people are apathetic if not resistant.

We have so many opportunities to access helpful information. Let’s take Google Analytics. If you work with or around the website you probably can relate to everyone and their mom having an opinion on how it could look or work better. Take a survey, and you will get helpful input mixed in with contradictory directions. Hook your site up with google analytics and now you have real evidence to address the real issues going on in your site based on behaviors. Suddenly our goal to increase rating on navigation and inspiration had intelligence behind it. What blogs were people most interested in, what page was keeping them from moving deeper in the site? It took over a minute to download the page? Now we know where to focus our efforts! With data, you can hone in on the right issues or interests and use them to your organization’s advantage.

These are the same values Virtuous has on a relational level in donor management. Taking the hardcore truth for individual behaviors and campaign tracking to evolve efforts to adapt to the reality rather than guessing with the gut.

The Exodus Road used Virtuous software to better analyze both their individual donors and overall giving patterns and applied what they learned. They tailored their asks based on individual data in Virtuous, and saw a 400% increase in giving year over year.

Data matters, it reaches a far greater scope than what one or two people can guess at. The more your organization values that data, the greater impact they can have. Finding the antidote to data apathy doesn’t have to be a big project or super hard…. if you’re ready to get your organization valuing data, here are 5 tips you can use to get started.

Be Patient, Listen, and Think Long-Term

When implementing any type of change, being forceful may get things done in the short-term, but data habits will die just as fast as they were implemented. Have natural conversations with those around you at all levels within the organization. Find out what hasn’t been working for them, what they are frustrated by, what they are excited about. By understanding those around you, you can get a feel for the need. People who don’t know they need data, won’t find it relevant.

Gather & Use Data

Similar to using data, look up relevant data that you have learned and is of interest to those you have consulted. If you have a team working under you, assign them to do some research and have a short meeting to ask what was relevant to them and how that would impact their work as well as any hypothesis or theories they might have.

Ask for Feedback

Don’t make commitments and jump the gun, buy-in has to come from your team. If at this point there isn’t an interest you may have to table things for another day or be willing to continue to present data and it’s valuable input. By asking your teammates if this is helpful, you’re giving them a chance to verbalize and consciously admit if they recognize the benefits of data or not.

Suggest Minimal Commitments

Ask if your team will be willing to meet together every other month over lunch to share valuable data and commit to pursuing data for the next meeting. The more people initiate on their own with their own interest, the more it will last.

The reality is, not everyone will be as passionate about the data as you are. However, don’t underestimate the power of a few passionate people on your team to influence the organization. Take focus on every level, from the top leadership who will be keeping the accountability to the everyday details person, each person is important to focus on encouraging the value of data.


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