I recently had the pleasure of chatting with NamasteData founder Meena Das, who provided a wealth of information on the importance of equity in data. While important in all areas, equitable data is particularly integral to the nonprofit sector which frequently involves missions directly aligned with supporting traditionally disadvantaged groups. In this blog, we highlight some ways to make data more equitable.
What is Data Equity?
Before discussing how data can be more equitable in your organization, it is important to make sure we are all speaking the same language surrounding the topic. Data equity broadly refers to framing every step of an organization’s data efforts around concepts of inclusivity and justice. This is particularly important when the data at hand is related to people.
Data has inherent power with it as it serves as the rationale for decision-making processes. As Meena noted in our chat, “Being collected in the data in powerful databases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the power to help your situation. You can still feel vulnerable.” This is a great way to emphasize why data equity is so important. It helps ensure that people are adequately represented in the use of their data.
Strategies to Improve Data Equity in Your Organization
There are actually many things that you can do in order to strengthen data equity in your organization. Below are some things to consider when reflecting on your own data equity.
Be Intentional with Data
One of the most important aspects of data is intentionality. Too often, we can develop a survey without stopping to think about the purpose of different questions. However, effective and equitable data begins with intentionality. As Meena stated, “You need to be able to visualize what are the outcomes you want to achieve.” Here are some questions that can help with this:
- What do we want to learn?
- What will we use this data for?
- How can we best collect this data in a non-biased manner?
Disaggregate Data During Analysis
One mistake that organizations often make is by looking only at aggregate data when searching for trends. However, this can lead to ignoring the thoughts and needs of various groups. In addition to analyzing aggregate data, be sure to analyze disaggregated data while taking steps to protect confidentiality. Here are some of the ways you may want to break down data for analysis:
- Age groupings
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
Consider the Human Experience
When collecting data, it is important to realize that the process goes towards your relationship with stakeholders. It is imperative to be transparent through this process. Inform people what data is being collected, the reason behind this, and how it will be used. Detail the steps taken to protect their data. This is very important for strengthening trust.
The Importance of Data Equity
Data equity is an important goal for ensuring that our information is of high quality and observations are accurate. It also helps nonprofits and other organizations to ensure that we use data in a way that is representative of the various groups we serve. For those who feel they need a bit of additional expertise to help them along their path to leveraging data in an equitable, transparent way, Keela provides nonprofits with an exceptional fundraising CRM that can help them best leverage their data.