Data Incomplete

Recently, I’ve found it difficult to go into work in the mornings. This is no doubt mostly due to the fact that my daily bus commute has been quite rainy as of late, but it was more than that. Since turning in the Women’s Fund Letter of Intent a few weeks back, I’ve mainly been working on one major project that is both extremely promising but also very mentally taxing. To date, I’ve combed through every grant folder that ECDI has ever applied for and collated all the information available into a spreadsheet for later analysis. Oftentimes, the information I need is hidden in folders upon folders in unrelated sections of the drive. Sometimes, after hunting for a piece of information for over an hour, I just have to give up and accept that I won’t be able to find it. I don’t like the idea of analyzing incomplete data, it is going to make it difficult to draw any sort of useful conclusion at end of my project.
However, I’m still finding interesting trends the information that I can find. For example, unsolicited bank asks, which is when someone from an organization simply writes a letter to a bank asking for money out of the blue, is a fairly common and surprisingly effective practice in the non-profit sector. Most of the time, we don’t even get a response from the bank, and when they do provide funding, it’s almost never for the full amount that was requested. Scrolling through the multitudes of bank asks we’ve sent in over the years, most of which never even garnered a response, it looks like a colossal exercise in futility. However, given even the limited data I’m working with, it seems that I had underestimated the impact of this asks. Even though banks rarely will give the full amount requested, most will give you a small portion of what you ask for. In the past, we’ve gotten only about a third of the amount we’ve requested, but when you realize that this third amounted to well over half a million dollars, you realize that what seemed at first to be an exercise in futility is actually a calculated bet against reasonable odds. Given the way I’ve been feeling about my current data project, it was nice to find that sometimes even though you don’t get exactly what you want, you usually at least get something. And sometimes that something just happens to be half a million dollars.

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