Making wise decisions: A step-by-step guide to selecting the right data system

Making Wise Decisions is a toolkit to help your small or mid-sized organization better manage your data.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Sam Adams

Authors and their affiliation

Corey Newhouse, Founder and Principal, Public Profit
Betsy Baum Block, Principal, B3 Consults
Justine Wolitzer, Senior Research Associate, Public Profit
S. H. Cowell Foundation
Y & H Soda Foundation

Key features

  • An online quiz that walks the reader through a series of questions to help identify data systems most likely to meet their needs.
  • A series of recommendations of the organizational fit for different types of data systems, based on answers given in the quiz.
  • (Optional) The ability to sign up via email to have your quiz responses and recommendations, as well as the complete PDF guidebook, emailed to you.
  • Once signed up via email, access to the PDF guidebook includes: 
    • A step-by-step walkthrough of key considerations for nonprofits when selecting and adopting a data system
    • Activities and templates for teams to use in order to align on needs and set their implementation plan
    • Links to additional resources, tools, webinars, and training

All email addresses are kept confidential, and are not used for marketing purposes. 

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

We have used this resource in several ways. As a free, stand alone resource, we have shared it with organizations in our network who are beginning the difficult work of assessing their data systems and need answers on where to start and where to go. We have also incorporated this toolkit into a half-day workshop that gives structured support for organizations going through the system selection process. Lastly, the foundations that support this resource (S. H. Cowell and Y & H Soda) have begun to use it to support their grantees, and improve their capacity-building grant making capabilities. 

Why would you recommend it to other people?

We created the Making Wise Decisions toolkit in order to offer practical, user-friendly advice on adopting a data system, start to finish. We wanted to avoid jargon, focusing instead on good guidance and best practices!

With nonprofit professionals in mind, our goal was to create a toolkit that provides guidance on the system selection process and advice on how to assess the fit of different types of data systems relative to an organization’s needs. This toolkit will also be useful for funders looking to increase the capacity of their grantees, while maximizing the effectiveness of these types of investments. 


Baum, B., Newhouse, C., & Wolitzer, J. (2018) Making Wise Decisions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting the Right Data System. S. H. Cowell Foundation and Y. & H. Soda Foundation.