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The role of data in equity and social justice - The Digital Nonprofit with Vu Le


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The nonprofit sector has seen an increased focus on data, metrics, outcomes, etc. Some of this is due to the complex nature of our work and the difficulty of defining success. The focus on data is an attempt to tame the chaos. However, data can be both very helpful, or very detrimental to the work. The narrow definitions of what constitutes good data and outcomes, for example, can leave many marginalized communities behind. We need to understand how and when to use data, who uses it, and how to apply the lens of equity in looking at data.

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The role of data in equity and social justice - The Digital Nonprofit with Vu Le

  1. 1.  Contributes over $800billion to the economy  5.5% of the GDP in US, 6.8% of GDP in Canada  3rd largest workforce  Employs 10% of all workers in US, 12% in CA  Over 15,000,000,000 volunteer hours  Increasing growth Source:,
  2. 2.  58,000+ veterans homeless each night  218,000,000+ kids in child labor  1,000,000+ kids die from starvation  36 football fields of rainforest lost per minute
  3. 3.  Climate change  Immunization  Education
  4. 4.  Hard to measure many outcomes  No standardization of processes, content  Expensive  No one wants to pay for it  So much data in nonprofit sector is crap  Used to hoard resources
  5. 5.  Who has access to resources for data?  Who defines methodology?  Who interprets finding?  Who determines standards?
  6. 6.  Look at contexts surrounding data  Combine qualitative with quantitative  Combine data with community engagement  Reexamine comparison groups  Reexamine agency/causes