Data Sets up Nonprofit’s Sobriety Program for Long-term Success

Oct 22, 2019 1:15 PM ET

Alliance Data’s Data for Good initiative helps nonprofits build capacity leveraging data-driven insights. In 2016 the company, a global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions, announced a partnership with CNM (The Center for Nonprofit Management) to support the launch of CNM-pact®. The program provides nonprofits affordable expertise and software to ensure they know what data to collect, and how to interpret and take action on that data in order to achieve greater program efficiency and effectiveness. The following is part of a series featuring the stories of CNM-pact Certified nonprofits as well as other Data for Good initiatives supported by Alliance Data.

Operational and outcomes-based data is essential to evaluating nonprofit program effectiveness. While many organizations can capture client service delivery data, accessing that data efficiently and interpreting it in new and creative ways often presents a significant challenge. As a result, nonprofits miss out on insights that could inform meaningful program improvements and policy changes. 

Texas-based CNM (formerly The Center for Nonprofit Management) sees this dynamic frequently among nonprofits, and for nearly four decades, the consulting firm has made its mission to help other nonprofits run their organizations better. They launched CNM-pact® in 2016 to help nonprofits track, analyze, evaluate and report program outcomes. Today, CNM serves nearly 60 organizations including The Magdalen House, a privately funded nonprofit in Dallas that helps women achieve sobriety through its Social Detox Program and sustain recovery from alcoholism through its Peer Recovery Program. 

Like many of CNM’s clients, The Magdalen House collects service delivery data like number of admissions and visits, and program completion rates. They also collected some client outcome data at program completion. The Magdalen House team believed that they could have higher completion rates and increase capacity by improving their data collection procedures and making evidence-based decisions about their program services. 

“The Magdalen House has a strong program built on a solid foundation of evidence and they are passionate about their mission,” said CNM President and CEO Tina Weinfurther. “We saw a tremendous opportunity to partner with them to build the infrastructure for acquiring and analyzing their data, and to help inform strategic decisions.”

With CNM’s help, The Magdalen House team gained the ability to collect and interpret more robust client outcome data more efficiently. The benefits were immediate. For example, the data revealed that women who were on their fifth and six visits to Social Detox were not completing the program. The insight was that these women needed a long-term recovery program. By redirecting them into a longer-term recovery program (called Peer Recovery Program), the nonprofit was able to better serve existing clients and open up beds in the Social Detox program for new ones by close to 10% in just three months. Discovering this trend would have been a major challenge in the past as The Magdalen House did not have an efficient way to get year-over-year comparison data and cross reference different data sets in order to track admissions and completion rates for women who made multiple visits. When they attempted to do this type of analysis manually, it would require hours of staff time.  

CNM was also able to help The Magdalen House gather new and more complex data. CNM’s program evaluation experts created a survey for women who had completed the Social Detox program to assess longer-term ability to abstain from intoxicants, satisfaction with personal relationships and broader quality of life outcomes. The Magdalen House now administers this survey at three, six and 12-month intervals to track these outcomes over time.

“The CNM program evaluation team really immersed themselves in our mission and culture. They helped us re-define success and gauge program effectiveness beyond sobriety to their overall quality of life - from education, to family relations, to career aspirations,” said Lisa Kroencke, Executive Director, The Magdalen House. 

With the help of CNM program evaluation experts and new, powerful statistical data analysis tools, The Magdalen House significantly reduced the time it takes to create program results reports for its funders. They can also demonstrate how the Social Detox and Peer Recovery programs are interdependent and mutually supportive. 

“We can now show that when a Social Detox client immediately transitions into our Peer Recovery program, they have a better chance to maintain long-term recovery from alcoholism,“ said Kroencke. A recent survey of Peer Recovery participants conducted by The Magdalen House revealed 96% have continued to abstain from all intoxicants, 80% have a “much improved” quality of life, and 88% reported The Magdalen House “very much influenced” their recovery. 

Looking forward, CNM sees a wealth of opportunity for The Magdalen House to expand their client data, such as using demographic data to help align their client mix with the Dallas population makeup and need. “This relationship has been so powerful and beneficial for The Magdalen House and its clients because of the team’s level of engagement and commitment to finding new ways to understand and use data to improve programs and communicate with funders and other stakeholders,” said Weinfurther. “With the tools and knowledge The Magdalen House team has acquired, the sky's the limit as far the outcomes they can achieve in the future.”