2011 National Conference: Moving the Needle - Making our Case with Data


 

In the Forum’s first stand-alone plenary session, Forum attendees and speakers grappled with the sometimes unpleasant, but crucial reality that organizations must document and demonstrate their impact with data. Two dynamic and expert speakers shared their perspectives on why concrete, measurable results are a necessary complement to anecdotal feelings of success. Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (pictured above), said that the current battle the Corporation faced to maintain its federal funding was a perfect example of why data is so important. In short, the Corporation will need to illustrate that its programs achieved clear impacts. 

A memorable highlight of the session came when the 2nd speaker, David Smith, Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship, told a story that described how research and data collection could overturn expectations. Smith explained that in one study of single mothers in a community, it was discovered that their #1 desire was not to receive expected supports such as child care. Instead the single mothers said that the most important improvement to their quality of life would come from the control of wild dogs that roamed their community and made it unsafe for their children. It was a good reminder that we must always understand the needs of communities before we attempt to help them.