Erin McKenney, representing the Learning Exchange in St. John, New Brunswick, shares insights on her journey to implement a data plan and outcomes-based funding model. Through collaborative efforts and engaging practices like ‘data parties,’ she’s embraced a culture of data-driven decision-making. Erin’s expertise highlights the importance of focused learning, balanced with a commitment to progress over perfection, for nonprofits navigating similar paths.

Key Takeaways

  • Transitioning to an outcomes-based funding model can provide more freedom and flexibility in achieving key outcomes.
  • Engaging the team through data parties and collaborative processes can help overcome resistance and build buy-in.
  • Developing a quality of life survey can capture valuable insights and empower learners to reflect on their own progress.
  • Continuous refinement and improvement are essential in data management and analysis.
  • Nonprofits should focus on their own expertise and involve stakeholders in the data process.


00:00 Introduction and Background
01:21 State of Data and Insights Prior to PDI Program
05:30 Key Outcomes and Measurement
09:35 Engaging the Team and Data Parties
12:28 Developing the Quality-of-Life Survey
15:37 Collaboration and the Data Analysis Working Group
20:41 Refinement and Continuous Improvement
23:32 Designing the Quality-of-Life Survey
31:13 Balancing Realism and Optimism
39:31 Recommendations for Other Nonprofits

What you can do:

By embracing a mindset of continuous learning and finding the balance between excellence and progress, you can navigate the complexities of implementing data-driven strategies, contributing to more effective decision-making and impactful outcomes in your own sphere of influence.


Read an auto-generated transcript of the Episode:

Erin MacKenney

Erin has a background in education and close to 10 years of experience working in poverty reduction in the non-profit sector. Throughout her career she has developed a passion for evaluation as a means to understand impact. Most recently, she was the Program Director and Measurement, Evaluation and Learning Lead at the Saint John Learning Exchange in Saint John, NB Canada. In her role she led the charge in developing stronger and more efficient data collection processes, creating and incorporating new tools, building the organization’s data culture, and getting the team excited about the impact of their work. She loves to make talking about data fun and has been known to throw a great data party! 


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