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April 2, 2024

Data Collection For Communities: Reasons For & What To Collect

DATA!  When I hear the word data I cringe – well I should say I used to cringe. 

But I have since come to realise that if done effectively and in a manner that appeals to a wide audience it becomes a powerful tool to enable goal setting and measure success and areas for improvement.

When we begin a new initiative, we are often so excited to get started and to see results, that we forget to take time to identify what is really going on.  Collecting data gives us the opportunity to identify what is ‘actually happening’.  We typically have a good sense of what this is, but effective data collection ensures that we understand the true needs of the community rather than our assumed ones.  We can often use this data collection to identify target groups within our local area and to assist us in setting initial goals and targets. 

Another important benefit of collecting data is that it is very powerful when sourcing essential funding and grants.  It can help provide the backbone for our initiatives and can help provide evidence needed when requesting funding for new initiatives.    

When collecting baseline data in preparation for action planning and goal setting I would recommend the following techniques:

  1. Use of a 3 Tier Diagram
  2. This is a great tool to use when first beginning to get a snapshot of current strategies and to help identify where the gaps exist
  3. Targeted Surveys
  4. Surveys provided in a variety of forms including online, paper and in person
  5. Ensure that surveys are provided to local schools.  This is an ideal way to collect data from the youth and also the teachers within the school.  Be sure to check the format that is suitable as many schools must stick to using tools such as Microsoft Forms etc.
  6. Specific questions from within the surveys posted on the team’s social media channels - This can be a great way to engage busy people who may not have time to complete a survey but can jot down a quick answer to one question on social media
  7. A simple question posted at an event or as people are leaving - There could even be an ipad where people input their answer to the question. Or instead you could have a question posted on a wall with answers and people simply add a sticky dot next to their preferred answer
  8. Use the initial data to set some initial goals and targets - This will allow the team to get some early wins and raise awareness out in the community or local area
  9. Provide an initiative for getting the surveys back on time - A little incentive goes a long way to motivating people

In my next blog post I will share examples of each of the data collection strategies that I have mentioned above, and will explain how to utilise each.

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