Monthly Archives January 2014

Risk and Numbers

By ginaschmeling   /     Jan 10, 2014  /     New York, Nonprofits, Running  /     0 Comment

Each season, the same dread.  The time or threshold test.  

A time test is the runner’s lab.  Usually a 5K or 10K full-effort run approximating race conditions.  Pace, time and heart rate info all determine training paces for the big or “A” race.  In a time test, the drive and determination come from the runner — no exceptional and external energy of race day.

I love running.  Yet I have a hang up about these tests.  Guilty of overthinking, excuse-making and even dodging a few.

There are bright spots.  First, the millisecond my watch beeps finish time.  Then the data.  It is irrefutable and timely.  Coach Matt Imberman and I assess current ability, not a vintage PR or an idea of what could be (@bkdistancecoach).  Spiritually, I feel clear.  My ultimate goal may be elusive, but I know how far I can push my training.  And this is where two of my worlds converge.

Wise and creative nonprofit experts use data.  Beth Kanter, the Social Media guru, details not only a plan for nonprofits to use online channels but the means to measure and maintain that work (@kanter).  Blackbaud’s Steve MacLaughlin tracks charitable giving month by month and publishes info-rich annual reports.  He shows the helix of online and real-life campaigns, by size and organizational category (@SMacLaughlin).

Like runners, nonprofits need a lab.  Whether deep gift analysis, or a simple tracking of events and online activity, it is good to be grounded.  Data excavation can be trying.  Internal culture, expertise and resources may limit how far a nonprofit can go.  Many organizations are focused on the day to day.  Even a pause to look at history — not to mention test the current moment — is burdensome.

Large and small organizations share this dilemma.  How to plan?  Start simple.  Select a few choice lines of data to really understand and follow.  Find the earth beneath your feet and agree with staff and board — this is where we are.

Runners are loud.  We swear and cheer, complain and self-congratulate.  The best runners own their numbers.  Mile 20 pain at mile 5 is never good.  No one wants to slog to the finish.

Understanding this moment opens a season of testing and maybe triumph.  I like a solid plan that allows for bold moves and bursts of creativity.  Running a path with a willingness to go for openings when possible — that is transcendent.

This one is for Coach Matt  and the Brooklyn Distance Running goofs.

This one is for Coach Matt
and the Brooklyn Distance Running goofs.



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