Making Evidence-Based Decisions from Your Data

The Client


Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. They are mission-driven and believe that every child deserves an excellent education, and that a strong press is vital to making that happen. They report from (and on) seven locations: Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Indiana, Newark, New York, and Tennessee. As a nonprofit, Chalkbeat’s support comes from a diverse mix of sources, including sponsors who pay for opportunities to share messages with their readers and donors who believe in their mission. As most local news sources shrink, creating more so-called “news deserts,” Chalkbeat is building a sustainable model that is local, substantive, and independent.

The Problem

Our partner, Chalkbeat, came to Pro Bono Analytics originally seeking volunteer help to evaluate the feasibility and practicality of developing a data warehouse/business intelligence (DW/BI) system for their organization. They were intent on making data driven decisions, but the evidence was spread across multiple systems and they were not clear on which “metrics mattered most.”


The Approach

One of our analytics volunteers rolled up her sleeves and began automating quarterly and monthly reports, extensive data analysis work that was previously done manually by their team. The data for the reports came from a variety of sources like Google Analytics, Facebook, Facebook Ads, Mailchimp, Pardot, Salesforce, and Eventbrite. Our volunteer was also able to incorporate data from their newest media bureaus in Newark and Chicago into their automated spreadsheets, a long-term goal for Chalkbeat.

Chalkbeat had never seen their data so in-depth before, often distracted by the sheer process of simply gathering their data, and this project helped them realize that they still needed a solution to a larger problem – generating effective insights from their data. This led them to begin seeking out paid consulting work to pair with our PBA volunteer’s technical abilities.

The Solution

They kept the volunteer focused on the technical aspects of getting the reporting automation up and running while deciding to incorporate a paid consultant to help with the insights. Their reason for doing so was that this was going to be a more intense engagement than they deemed appropriate to ask of a volunteer. They needed a consultant with deeper industry knowledge of marketing and media with a very current understanding of Google Analytics – the consultant they found was being considered for a permanent role. Chalkbeat is excited to be in a position with full report automation for all their various systems and with future plans for concrete recommendations to improve their editorial and product work.

Project at a Glance

# of Volunteers on Project




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Our work is about helping nonprofits with data in order to promote informed decision-making and maximize their potential for social impact.

Contact us to figure out how you can get started with turning data into actions or return to our Case Studies page for other examples of the power of data analytics in the nonprofit sector.