Is a Piece Missing From Your Advocacy Work? Chances Are, It’s Data.

Bite Missing from Bread

Advocacy is an art form. It’s woven into the fabric of not-for-profit operations, helping to guide legislative action and secure needed financial support and volunteer hours. Advocacy is persuasive. Mission-driven. Ethos and pathos and logos. But is data missing from your advocacy work?

As compelling as words and stories can be, numbers also have great persuasive power. As huge fans of data ourselves, we want to highlight a few nonprofits that are hitting it out of the park with data-driven advocacy

Boys & Girls Clubs of America: In 2011, Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched the National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI) to measure the impact of Clubs using a common set of research-informed indicators. NYOI is a tremendous asset to demonstrate impact. Thanks to NYOI data, Boys & Girls Clubs of America can confidently say:

  • Regularly attending Club members’ ages 12 to 17 from low-income families outperform their peers academically, with 74% reporting getting A’s and B’s in school, more than 10% higher than their peers nationally.
  • 68% of Club 12th graders volunteer in their communities, compared to 39% of their peers nationally.
  • 84% of Club 12th graders abstain from alcohol use, compared to 58% of their peers nationally.

Teach for America: This organization conducts independent research and collects extensive data to assess its impact on students’ educational opportunities. They also use these measurements to uncover areas of improvement so they can continuously drive the organization forward. Some of the powerful metrics that Teach for America touts to show its impact include:

  • Teach for America corps members who taught pre-K through second grade boosted student reading scores by an amount equal to 1.3 months of additional instruction.
  • Corps members who taught secondary math boosted student learning by an amount equal to 2.6 months of additional instruction.

American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society uses historical and probabilistic data to project the number of new cancer cases and deaths expected each year, because cancer incidence and mortality data lag three to four years behind. With an entire page of their website dedicated to research and multiple Facts & Figures publications, this organization is no stranger to data. They use metrics not only to monitor the current cancer situation in the U.S., but also to demonstrate the nonprofit’s impact on the disease. In fact, the American Cancer Society has contributed to a 25% decrease in the overall US cancer death rate since 1991.

Do you have the data you need to show your nonprofit’s impact? Sometimes the most influential stories are found in the numbers.

Tim Lamb, Director of Marketing and Demand Generation