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Qualitative Data

Both big data and little data can be powerful tools for organizations to better understand the impact of their work and the state of their sector as a whole. Much of this kind of data can be collected through quantitative data collection methods, such as surveys, but it is important to remember that we also have other tools at our disposal. Qualitative data collection techniques, such as focus groups and interviews, can also be very useful and can help further contextualize quantitative data as well.

Last year we worked with East Bay Center for the Performing Arts to assess the impact and value of their community holiday event. We had data on the reasons attendees engaged with EBCPA, but we specifically wanted to know how their holiday event aligned with the community’s values. Did the event have a positive impact on their community? Did it reinforce EBCPA’s mission to be a community hub? We decided to collect research by distributing surveys at the event and by interviewing attendees. The survey data revealed that the Center was perceived to be a performing arts school and a place to see live music, dance, and theatre. The interviews further revealed that the majority of attendees came to the event because their children take classes at the Center, to participate in a community holiday activity, or to provide presents for their kids. This qualitative data highlighted the organization’s value to the community. The holiday event was valued as a place for parents and children to celebrate the holidays as well as a way for those less fortunate to receive gifts. This information may not have been easily extrapolated from a survey alone. Tools such as focus groups and interviews can provide a deeper look into quantitative data and offer organizations and researchers even more insight.

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