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Bradley Impact Fund Blog

In the Digital Age, Data Really Doesn't Tell All

Like so much of our world in this digital era, philanthropy relies on data. There’s no question that data used for program evaluation and insights into funding results has a place, but can metrics really paint the full picture of what nonprofit organizations accomplish?

Panelists at the 2019 Bradley Impact conference believe strongly that answer is no. “Working with families with generational problems, it’s easy to measure outputs, but outputs don’t tell the story of the work,” says Nicole Zorn, Director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter, Safe Families for Children. “We’re changing the dynamics of family relationships, connecting kids to job opportunities and parents to resources. A tally mark in our database doesn't come close to actually telling the story of the bigger picture of what's happening.” Hear more from Nicole in this brief video.


Marco Morrison, Executive Director of Operation DREAM, Inc. agrees. “How can metrics tell how this person's life changed? It’s not about data, it’s about individuals. You need to truly understand the problem and the people. Once you dig in deep, you can see how to help that person in the way they need to be helped,” he says.

Like Operation DREAM and Safe Families, the Bradley Impact Fund and The Bradley Foundation focus on building relationships and cultivating deeper understanding beyond the data. When vetting potential grant recipients, our professional staff seeks nonprofit leaders who find creative ways to help people on their terms, and who make it difficult to continue with failed approaches – all things difficult to measure, yet essential in making philanthropic investments that have strategic impact. The ongoing relationships we build with nonprofits at the local, state, and national levels allow our staff to share insights with donors as you make decisions about giving.

The list of 2019 approved grant recipient organizations through the third quarter is now available. Note: If you don’t see an organization on the list that you’d like to give to, that’s not a problem! Just get in touch. And if you’d like to have an in-depth conversation about strategic giving that makes an impact beyond the data, please give us a call.

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