Frequently asked questions

What does Data Viz for Nonprofits (DVN) provide?

DVN delivers, through short-term consultations, high-quality, low-cost visualizations that help organizations to:

·       Quickly grasp their data

·       Improve their work

·       Show their impact

How does DVN provide services that are both high-quality and low-cost?

Many nonprofit organizations need better ways to look at their data for internal planning and evaluation and for sharing their impact with funders, participants, policymakers, and others. However, many of these organizations lack the budget to buy expensive data visualization software or employ staff with advanced data visualization skills.

Through short-term consultations, DVN delivers interactive data dashboards, which include a variety of ways to understand the data. Organizations can easily update these dashboards as they gather new data. And, best of all, the dashboards are created using free software. Thus nonprofits receive sophisticated data dashboards without incurring any ongoing cost.

What types of data dashboards can DVN create for my organization?

DVN works with program data (such as participant demographics or participation/attendance data) as well as financial data to show progress toward goals, change over time, comparisons among groups, relationships among groups, as well as other types of analyses.

DVN will choose visualizations best suited for your data and purposes including tree maps, line graphs, bubble charts, heat maps, bar charts, stacked bar charts, and choropleth maps. DVN can create static visualizations suited for annual reports and brochures as well as interactive visualizations on internal or outward-facing websites. See please see examples here.

What type of software does DVN use?

DVN primarily uses Tableau. PC Magazine awarded Tableau its Editors Choice Award in 2016 and calls Tableau “one of the most mature players in the self-service BI (business intelligence) space” and “almost an synonym for BI science and data visualization.” Tableau Desktop is quite expensive and thus out of reach for many nonprofits. However, DVN uses the free version of Tableau which is the same as the propriety version but does not allow saving to a desktop. DVN can make data dashboards using this free version that prevents those outside of the organization to access data or even see the dashboard. DVN also uses other software including Qlik Sense, Excel, and RAW when needed.

How does the DVN process work and how much does it cost?

DVN will meet with you (in person, online, or by phone) to discuss your needs and then develop a proposal for a short-term consultation. The proposal will include a budget-sensitive flat fee for all services. So you will know exactly what you are purchasing and not have to worry about unstated additional fees.

Why should my organization invest in data visualization? Can’t I make a few Excel charts and call it day?

Both the supply and the demand for data have reached new heights. The world, including your organization, is pumping out data at astounding rates. In 2012, 2.5 exabytes of data were created each day and that number has doubled every 40 months or so, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Many nonprofits do not have the capacity to effectively manage, much less effectively use, the data they produce. Data visualization allows organizations to easily digest large amounts of data, quickly understand its significance, and then apply this learning to improve their work.

Interactive data dashboards (unlike static Excel charts) allow nonprofits to look at their data from a variety of angles, quickly and easily. For example: What subgroups are driving an overall upward trend in participation in a particular program? Are certain demographic groups using your services more? Is there a downward trend among other groups?  (For more on the importance of data visualization for nonprofits, see Amelia Kohm's article on Philanthropy News Digest.)