How Often Should You Collect the Data?

According to Skip Farrar, manager of business development at Southern California Edison, a public utility in California, reporting out on economic impact once annually is likely sufficient for many funders. However, evidence suggests that collecting it more often than that is a good idea, because the more often you request the information, the more it becomes a habit for your clients and graduates.

“By doing it quarterly I think we accustomed our clients to managing the process more easily,” Cattey says. “Once a year means it becomes a project. Once a quarter means it becomes a report they must submit.”

In Indianapolis, Long contacts clients and graduates twice a year – once in February and once in August. He decided to collect data biannually because he thinks it will be frequent enough to keep pace with significant changes but infrequent enough not to irritate clients.

But don’t despair if you can collect data just once a year – plenty of managers collect it on an annual basis. For example, at the Ohio University Innovation Center in Athens, Ohio, Director Linda Clark sends a spreadsheet at the end of December every year, so entrepreneurs can fill it out along with their annual tax forms. “As they do their IRS reporting, they’ll have all their sales figures right there,” she says.