How do you measure the impact of what you do in a manageable way? The authors of The Goldilocks Challenge present guiding principles to selecting data that is meaningful, grounded, realistic…and can ultimately support evidence of impact. Based on these principles, Communitas Senior Analyst and Project Manager Casey Cox presents questions that invite you to consider your program’s data efforts:

CREDIBLE    Are you drawing appropriate conclusions based on valid and reliable information?

ACTIONABLE    Is your leadership both capable of and committed to taking concrete action and changing organizational behavior based on the findings that result from collecting data?

RESPONSIBLE    Is your data collection strategy mindful of staff time, client privacy, and organizational resources?

TRANSPORTABLE    Can the data you collect offer learning beyond one program, and are you willing to share learning to inform the field?

Planning for implementation and use of the data before creating a data collection system helps avoid common pitfalls. And preparing a data strategy that builds from a theory of change and tracks day to day activities and processes gives structure to these efforts. Use these questions to collect what you need, identify what really works, and deliver positive results.

*Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean S. Karlan. The Goldilocks Challenge: Right-fit Evidence for the Social Sector. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018.