Week 5: Data: More than Numbers

More Than Enough Essentials Fall 2020 Week 5: Data: More than Numbers

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    • #72335
      [email protected]
      CAFO Staff

      It was mentioned that data is the currency of choice for two of your biggest partners in local foster care movement building — government and local business.  What reservations or obstacles do you (or other non-profits) sometimes have about handling the currency of data?

    • #72954
      Maren Vallerand
      Participant

      We don’t want to reduce children to a statistic or number. We know their faces, their stories, and we want them to matter. We want others to care FOR THEM more than we want people to care ABOUT the data.

      On the flip side, I have felt the burden to steward stories well. I’ve seen how stories and names can indeed make our hearts swell, but I want to be careful not to manipulate people’s emotions. I know God can use anything, including a sense of obligation, to care for others; I just want to be careful and prayerful in this stewardship.

      • #72974
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I agree with the points you make about finding the balance between emotion and statistics, but I also add in privacy. When I started working with CAFO I was struck by every team member’s ability to share their heart, experiences, wisdom and to honor their children’s privacy and stories at the same time. They are all extremely intentional with their words and it has challenged me to spend time thinking and planning and talking with my own children about how I do this and want to do this well moving forward.

      • #72983
        Chris Schutter
        Participant

        I agree Maren.  If we appeal only to the emotions, than as soon as that feeling is gone, any felt need for action goes with it.

    • #72982
      Chris Schutter
      Participant

      I am both excited and a little scared when dealing with statistics.

      I think data can be used to balance out the emotion (we are dealing with stories that should evoke some emotional response) of the stories we tell.   If we can rightly fit the two together I think it is the perfect tool for bringing a clear and compelling message.  Having said that, I don’t math; however we have a pastor of administration who’s sweet dreams are made of this stuff and I’m hoping he can help make accurate sense of the numbers.

      • #73064
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        “sweet dreams made of this stuff” PERFECT. What a perfect avenue to invite others in, in ways that are very natural to them and their gifting.

         

    • #72984
      Ryan Keith
      Participant

      My background is in public policy. One of my grad school professors once told me, “I get that Christians are generous. I just wish you all were more thoughtful.” To that end…I actually fear Christians misuse data by exaggerating the problem, as so many nonprofits believe (and often experience) whoever tells the saddest story wins. For example, the number of vulnerable children who have lost a mom, dad, or both parents has actually gone down over the last 5 years, even though the world population has increased. We are making progress! It not only makes Christians look foolish, it hurts our witness and trust. People want to be part of success long-term, not just short-term sadness. This truth is one of the primary reasons I’m excited about MTE, as we can break it down locally, speak truth in a digestible way that isn’t beyond the realm of possible and collectively show impact around the country. Data can be scary, but also our friend if used correctly.

      • #73065
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        There is a lot of wisdom here Ryan, thanks for sharing.

    • #72988
      [email protected]
      Participant

      I think that the hardest part of data usage is what was addressed in the “Building a StoryBrand” podcast. I struggle with not getting lost in the weeds with the numbers, and not sharing stories, or with sharing to many stories, and no data. I am working to find the happy middle, and communicate the message clearly.

    • #72992
      Jason Grewe
      Participant

      When it comes to communicating with businesses I always try to break it down to a per county level, but not only that – I break it down to a per house level using US Census data.. For instance,
      In Tulsa County we need 1 new foster home for every 1,400 physical homes in the county in order to have enough foster homes.

      In addition, when communicating to pastors most recently, we used a 96% / 4% data/stat using popcorn (which we have been known for at the Pastors conference). 96% share popcorn, 4% of popcorn goes unpopped in a bag… We need 96% percent of the pastors to share the need about the 4% of children who have been in foster care in our state for over 10 years.

      • #73069
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Thats great Jason, FaithBridge Foster Care in Georgia is an amazing example of an organization who uses little numbers to make big impacts. They approach pastors with numbers of kids in their own zip code. Within X miles of their churches door.

        If you scroll to the bottom of their webpage, you can see a small first glimpse how they use data – https://www.faithbridgefostercare.org

        If you don’t know any GA counties to search, I live in Oconee. But some of my favorite county names are: Bacon, Coffee, Crisp, Butts, and Taliaferro (pronounced tall-uh-fer).

    • #72993
      Wendy Cheek
      Participant

      Great comments above. I think for me, when it comes to stats I get that we want to tell a story, but I’ve actually shied away from using stats for that purpose because of the emotional ties to things… It’s definitely important to do it well. I also/mainly want to use stats to make sure we’re actually being good stewards of the financial and personal time investment we put into our ministry… are we stewarding these 2 precious resources well and gaining the desired result? I don’t think of us as having “stakeholders” in the same way, as our funding all comes from a handful of local churches, and the entirety of our ministry are volunteer lay-leaders. But the TIME resource is massive, and I feel a great burden to make sure our efforts are reaching the desired results. I struggle trying to figure out what stats we could collect to actually know if that’s happening…

      • #73070
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Wendy, thanks for sharing. I think your struggle is so relatable to many in this class- not everyone is working with a staff, full-time, etc…I think being highly selective (what is that one important thing you want to track) and starting small could be great.

    • #72995
      Daina Davis
      Participant

      I think statistics can be helpful to show a broad perspective of the state of things in foster care but they do very little to speak to what actually happens in the lives of those we serve and the true impact until we recognize that each family is a story and every number matters individually. I think solely leaning on numbers as results creates opportunity for big fixes instead of taking the time to focus on smaller, individual and long-lasting solutions making for transactional care rather than relational care. Transactional is short term whereas relational is lasting. Sometimes things take longer, require more investment and personally reach more than we can say with a numerical figure. I think statistics are useful as long as we recognize what they truly mean and everything that surrounds them.

      • #73031
        Deborah West
        Participant

        Yes Daina!! That’s it exactly for me!

      • #73071
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        This makes me think of the struggle I have surrounding photos and kids in care. I highly value privacy and respect the privacy boundaries that are needed – however, kids are more than a number! The personal, relatable, piece is key.

    • #73158
      Jamie Bleakley
      Participant

      I feel  that frequently statistics or numbers are easily manipulated and do not necessarily compare the same things. Also forming a relationship with the right people to be able to have access to the desired data can be a challenge.

       

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