Step 5: Add context
Gain deeper insights
Wrapping your data in context is key to an engaging narrative. Where the data came from, how it was collected, why it’s relevant, and what you did with it are all essential pieces of context. They provide a strong foundation from which your audience can quickly grasp the key message, takeaway, or “insight” that leads to productive and informed decision making.
Remember that data very seldom speaks for itself; context is required to ensure we are correctly understanding what the data is trying to tell us.
Examples of Context
When writing a report that highlights the key findings from your evaluation, adding context helps provide a deeper understanding of your data.
There are two types of context that can be added to your data, internal and external. Internal usually refers to additional information provided by the organisation while external context usually refers to factors from outside the organisation that impact the program or activity. In either case, the additional information helps to contextualise the evaluation’s findings for the reader of the report, whether thats internal staff members, or other stakeholders.
When choosing what additional information to include, think about how that information would help someone to understand more about what the data is saying. For example, is it important to know that it was first time the event was run? That your program is aimed at providing a safe space for learning and networking? That there was a new artistic director at the helm? That it rained all day at an outdoor event? All these things assist in allowing for a deeper understanding of your evaluation as a whole.
Examples of internal context
- Program background and history
- The program’s intentions and objectives
- Changes to staff (leadership teams or boards)
- A new organisational strategic direction
- Funding received to support program
- Previous data collected by the organisation
- Self Peer Public comparison
- Current funding landscape
- COVID-19 impacts
- Weather impacts
- Benchmarks comparisons
For further reference, refer to the blog How To Tell A Story With Your Data, written by our Data Scientist Tom McKenzie.
For more information on adding context to your Culture Counts report or internal reporting, please get in touch with your Client Manager.
- How to tell a story with your data
- How to visualise your data: comparison charts
- How to visualise your data: distribution charts
- How to visualise your data: parts-to-whole charts
- A book recommendation for budding data creatives: Storytelling with Data
- ‘Evaluating in Packs’ and Sector Led Benchmarking
- New Feature: What is a benchmark?