Best of the Web: October 2015

It feels as though a tide is turning.

For years, you’ve heard me and others in tech try to convince you that data is important, that collecting and analyzing program data can do a lot for your organization and its mission.

But I’m starting to get the sense that most people are convinced at this point and are now turning their attention toward the next important question: What do I need to know to use data effectively?

Four of the most popular posts on social media this month were not about “why,” but about “how.” How to become more data literate. How to format and clean data. How to show your teammates the story in your data. How to maintain your database so that the information you need will be there for you.

This is an exciting time for all of us who believe in the power of program data. As more nonprofits develop data skills and expertise, I think we’re going to see nonprofits taking increasingly more important leadership roles in finding solutions to small and large challenges around the world.

Enjoy this month’s collection of news, insights, and best practices found on the web.

How to Become Data Literate in Seven Easy Steps (Datassist)
“Learning to use data is like learning any new skill: You don’t look at the masters and think you can emulate them right away. There’s nothing wrong with starting at square one!” This blog post from Datassist promises to take anyone willing to learn from the “kindergarten” of data knowledge to a “PhD” in data literacy.

Trifacta Wrangler to Format and Clean Data (FlowingData)
For you data wranglers out there, this new free tool allows you to streamline the process and get a visual inventory of the data you’re working with so that you can quickly identify problems such as percentage of missing values or columns that seem to have mismatched formats.

Overcoming Database Demons (Robert Weiner)
Just in time for Halloween, Robert Weiner shows you how demons can lurk in your database and how to cast them out.

Leveraging Data Storytelling (LinkedIn)
Kevin Zhao of the Ford Foundation outlines how to develop a data story—a selection of your data that highlights a series of connected events to make a point.

Why There Aren't More Women in Tech and Why It Matters (Lifehacker)
This infographic compiles data on the state of women in tech. It shows how far behind the industry really is, asks important questions about why women are so significantly underrepresented, shows the value of gender diverse companies (in terms of real money), and highlights a few organizations making a difference.

How to Build a Prototype Without a Technical Co-Founder (Inc.)
Is this a sign of a growing tech bubble? Inc. Magazine outlines how someone with an app idea, but no ability to actually create it, can still make a pitch to investors.

Edventure Builder (Website)
Have you ever wanted to build your own “choose your own adventure” story? This simple new tool allows you to guide a user through a series of questions or scenarios that branch into different possibilities along the way.

Six Fast Facts On The Future Of QR Codes For Nonprofit Fundraising (Tech Impact)
Do QR codes have a future? We asked that question on Twitter and got a resounding: “NO.” Tech Impact outlines all the reasons why QR codes are likely to go extinct.

Five Nonprofits Making The Most of Short Videos on Social Media (See3)
Video is a powerful tool for focusing your viewer’s attention and delivering a message that resonates. See3 shows a range of successful videos—from unedited moments that capture the spirit of the organization to very short videos that use music and graphics to engage emotionally with the audience.

Five Qualities A Nonprofit Social Media Coordinator Should Have (Tech Impact)
For a lot of organizations, especially those with older leadership, the assumption is that they just have to be young. Turns out, there’s more to it. Tech Impact breaks it down into five important qualities.

10 Common Tech Questions (Lifehacker)
A look behind some of the tech world’s most puzzling phenomena. (Finally, an answer to why I have to restart my wireless router so often.)
What Does Probability Mean in Your Profession? (Math with Bad Drawings)
Math with Bad Drawings reminds us that every profession is its own world complete with its own reality. On Twitter we said that there’s a high probability that you’ll find this blog post funny. Our followers seemed to agree.

Why donors leave your donation page and how to stop them (4aGoodCause)
Imagine doing all the hard work necessary to get someone interested in donating only to find them click away once they reach the donation page. It happens more often than you think. These tips can help you make sure that they stay focused on their mission once they reach your page.

The Landscape of Salesforce for Nonprofits: A Report on the Current Marketplace for Apps (Idealware)
We’re still getting a lot of buzz about our Salesforce report—probably because more nonprofits use Salesforce than any other database system. If you’re looking for a straightforward rundown of your options, including apps that can help you turn Salesforce into a tool that does more than just store contacts, download our free report.

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