GuideStar Blog

Data Is Not Wisdom

Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

In 1854 John Snow correctly identified the cause of a cholera outbreak in London. It was a contaminated water pump. He then struggled, and eventually succeeded, in persuading the city authorities to take the handle off the pump. It was a historic achievement in the history of public health. The same year, England's august Cholera Inquiry Commission published a 629-page report on the causes of cholera. Their conclusion: the culprit was "bad air"—the noxious emissions that were associated with poor neighborhoods. They had 629 pages of data, and it lead them to a wrong conclusion.


Your Engine of Impact: Strategy

Every nonprofit needs a strategy—a planned set of actions that will enable it to achieve the all-important mission that provides its reason for being.

The development and implementation of a viable strategy can be a daunting task for nonprofit leaders, but valuable tools and frameworks are available to help guide them. Many of these tools and frameworks originated in the discipline known as business strategy. Nonprofits, of course, differ from for-profit corporations in that they exist to serve a social purpose rather than to increase shareholder returns. But like businesses, nonprofits operate in markets, and the basic principles of economics apply to them, too.