Good Measure formed in 2015 out of a recognition that Central Texas funders, St. David’s Foundation included, could better support nonprofit partners in creatively and strategically using data to amplify impact. For too long data had been framed as an accountability tool to be used by the funder instead of as a critical tool for the organization’s learning in service of program improvement. Six years later, Good Measure has six core offerings to support funders and nonprofits to build a strong culture of learning, where data is regularly used to guide program and organizational improvement. Learn more about Good Measure’s offerings at GoodMeasureGroup.org.
Overview of Guiding Principles
At the core of Good Measure’s offerings are a set of continuously evolving principles called “Data Champion Guiding Principles” to guide our work. These principles were originally developed by the 2018 cohort of the Data Leaders Academy (DLA) to complement the Funder Guiding Principles for how to best support community partners’ ability to use data to amplify impact. Each year since, the DLA cohort has refreshed the principles based on their knowledge and lived experience implementing data & evaluation practices as nonprofit staff. The 2020 DLA cohort recognized the need to rework the principles to center equity, and a call went out to both the current cohort and alumni to form a committee to examine this work more closely. In a letter they shared on their process, the committee described what sparked the shift and how they conceptualized the changes:
“We needed to intentionally re-center given the events of 2020 and the increased exposure of deep-seeded systemic racism, which was too blatantly obvious to blanket in soft language. We recognized that to be inclusive, we needed to include more voices central to this work, and a call was put out to DLA alumni and current participants to form a subcommittee to tackle these revisions. In late October 2020, five DLA alums from across the cohorts came together to write an eighth guiding principle focused on equity. Five months later, what we have to offer are completely refreshed versions of the seven original guiding principles. The first thing we agreed on was that “equity cannot be tacked on at the end; it must be embedded from the start.”
The refreshed Guiding Principles focus on inclusivity and building on strengths, which resonate with St. David’s Foundation’s approach to philanthropy that strives to advance health equity in Central Texas. As we work to center equity across all our work, we recognize that we do not have all the answers and we know that we will inevitably make missteps along the way. The principles support the Foundation’s Evaluation and Strategic Learning team in centering community voice in our evaluation and learning practices. The principles also act as a tool against which we can check our assumptions and recognize lived experience as the starting point for problem solving.
We appreciate the hard work of the DLA alumni subcommittee who collectively re-envisioned how data and learning can be a tool to advance equity. Thank you Alicia Guerrero, DeAna Swan, Sabine Monice, Sarah McQueen, and Amanda Miller for your knowledge, expertise, and dedication to our community.