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Nonprofits and Information: Creating Success

Nonprofits are a valuable part of our community- always looking for ways to improve program delivery and reach more people who could benefit from their assistance. Of course, there are challenges, but organizations rarely let that stop them from graduating more workforce-ready community members or bringing more kids to camp.

Skillpoint’s Communications and Data Coordinator, Gina Watts, also a graduate student in Information Studies at the University of Texas, saw these efforts and wanted to find ways to make nonprofit work easier. To that end, she designed a research project around information challenges in nonprofits, interviewed local nonprofit professionals, and conducted a literature review to find solutions. Here are a few of the highlights: 

Many nonprofit professionals reported challenges related to data collection and management; in a world where metrics are collected primarily for grant reports, it can be difficult to actually gather meaningful feedback about programming. Another common issue was institutional memory; very few staff came in knowing what to expect from their jobs due to a combination of burnout and high turnover rates in nonprofits and a lack of documentation about job tasks.

The biggest finding, though? Nonprofits are always pushing forward, regardless of difficulties. While the research suggests that we could see big change coming soon thanks to new information technology and increased appreciation for nonprofit operations costs among funders, the improvements we see as a result will be on top of the impressive efforts nonprofits already put into serving their communities.

This project was presented at the iSchool Open House on May 6 and was well-received. We’re excited for more research to be done in this area so that we can see all of Austin continue to grow and thrive.