Ian Bingeman, Executive Director of Youth Ottawa, is one of those leaders who balances good decisions with the best available information and he often uses Ottawa Insights to guide him.
Youth Ottawa works to empower local youth by giving them opportunities and resources to build skills and be active citizens. Programs are offered in entrepreneurship, civic engagement, artistic mentorship, and social enterprise to help youth thrive as well as tackle the issues of our time.
Making the case with Ottawa Insights
For Ian, providing programming at Youth Ottawa goes hand in hand with trying to build partnerships, funding and community support for their work. When making a case for support, Ian explains that their expertise is not in researching and generating data on the broad trends.
“What we do is operationalize a concept, evaluate and then generate the data that can tie back into the broader picture,” he says. “What Ottawa Insights allows us to do is refer to ongoing data without having to do the work ourselves. That’s often the piece we’re missing when we ask for funding or partner support.”
When A Day of Information for a Lifetime of Action (DILA), their civic engagement program began six years ago, Ian was alone. Scaling the program meant making the case to potential funders without the time or resources to create a comprehensive report. Ian tapped Ottawa Insights and used the data and context there to make his case.
“I used Ottawa Insights because I was able to get information very quickly for a proposal we were submitting to the Treasury Board Secretariat,” recalls Ian. “It was about promoting access to open government tools in schools—a perfect fit for our civic engagement program.”
Ian uses data to tell Youth Ottawa’s story of the challenges that they face and the impact of their work.
“We also use it to adjust our activities,” he explains. “For example, we’ve steered the ship away from volunteerism for youth and towards paid employment opportunities and programs.”
Youth Ottawa made this course correction in part to address the high rate of youth unemployment and the proportion of youth who were facing barriers to employment. Another factor was the demographics of volunteerism among youth in schools.
“60-70 % of our volunteers were white, middle-class and from the suburbs,” says Ian. “It didn’t match what we were seeing in the schools. For us, creating economic opportunities was more important than expanding volunteer opportunities.”
Through its data, Ottawa Insights helped Ian bring this story to funders and supporters by demonstrating the importance of meaningful economic opportunity in the overall empowerment and wellbeing of youth.
“The data is used to tell stories of strength-based employment interventions. You’re taking that positive impact in the community and building in the employment opportunities around it. It’s a useful way of approaching it.”
And when Youth Ottawa started looking at shifting its strategy towards social enterprise, one thing that helped them make that decision was Ottawa Insights data that showed declining charitable donations despite a growing demand for support.
“Instead of wasting a lot of time, effort and energy developing a donor database, we started focusing on building a social enterprise first. That strategy has paid huge dividends for us.”
A one-stop shop for data
Statistics Canada, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health are some of the most common sources of data that make up the more than 100 indicators on Ottawa Insights.
For Ian, that makes Ottawa Insights an ideal jumping off point to build a case and access general information. It’s easy to navigate and provides the needed context. He also believes leaders of other charities—including board directors—would benefit from using Ottawa Insights to build, develop, and evaluate the narrative of their goals and accomplishments.
“Ottawa Insights is helping us show the value we’re bringing and the social impact that we’re making beyond the narrow scope of our charitable objectives.”