We take a look at some of the charities using data analytics to drive impact.
Pushing the boundaries of creativity, charities are doing all they can to leverage big data. Generally speaking, big data can come in many forms, and charities have started to capture their own datasets. These data can come from many sources – donor data from CRM, free data sets available on the internet, charity experiences, and increasingly, data can come from partnerships with other organisations.
Earlier, we focused on how charities are using big data to deliver services and achieve impact. Here, we continue our examination of big data and analytics, and its potential to transform how charities pursue digital fundraising, use of data, and impact.
Data analytics drive new trends in philanthropic giving
Donors, and in particular, high net-worth ones typically go through a systematic process to make decisions. Philanthropic trends around giving have also driven new types of giving. Donor-advised funds, or DAFs, have become some of the fastest-growing giving vehicles. DAFs take money from philanthropic donors under a single umbrella. CAF’s recent report highlighted that DAFs paid out nearly £300 million in 2015-2016 – an increase of 5% from the previous year. This new trend has raised the bar – the due diligence of giving has gone up.
Charity digital leaders from both large and small organisations looking to tap into this new source of digital fundraising need to be aware of the big data analytics behind that new decision-making process.
Many DAFs have dedicated managers who are empowered to make, and suggest grants to the ultimate grantors. Managers typically use digital, big data platforms to help them select the right charity beneficiary. The trend in using digital platforms is already well established in the US and UK, as DAFs are typically structured for international gifts.
GiveWell’s mission is to find outstanding charities. Part of the process is to assess evidence of impact, alignment with priorities, cost-effectiveness, transparency, and plan for additional funding, and many other criteria. These charity big data sets are collected and assessed to provide a donor recommendation.
For charity digital leaders, digital marketing and communications to DAFs can become an important part of your digital fundraising strategy – remember, DAFs are also looking for data analytics from charities themselves. Irrespective of size, collecting impact data on charity programmes should be an important part of any charity data strategy.
Big data, big impact
What if big data analytics could drive charitable missions even further? Charitable collaboration EDoN or Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Diseases is doing just that.
Partnering with well-known names like the Alzheimer’s Research UK, Mindstrong, National Physical Laboratory, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the Alan Turing Institute and many other charities and non-profit organisations, EDoN is working on developing ways to pick up indications of disease years before diagnosis.
The Digital Tools Working Group of the organisation looks at how wearable, digital devices can collect big data. With big data analytics, the teams are aiming to identify digital data fingerprints that can detect changes in the brain.
These ‘fingerprints’ can then be programmed into wearable, digital devices like watches or headbands, enabling researchers to identify when individuals are showing possible symptoms in advance of developing the disease. The potential for success is huge – the more data that is gathered and analysed, the cleared the picture is of these diseases.
Exemplary partnerships like EDoN are making use of big data, data analytics and wearable technology to find data-driven solutions to big problems.
Looking inwards to measure impact and results
Digital transformation using big data analytics can also come from within. Specialist platforms are at hand to help charities make sense of all the data they are collecting.
Wood for Trees offers charity data analytics on charity internal operations to donor preferences, including most valuable supporters; digital fundraising programmes; and KPI reporting. The platform uses analytical data mining software to help predict trends – including the likelihood and trend of donor giving over the long term.
Amongst subscribers, WWF has used Wood for Trees to collect data on impact as opposed to qualitative stories.
“We have never been able to do this before and finally we can capture as data, rather than stories, what difference our work is making for the communities we work with,” said Clare Crawford, Head of Design and Impact.
With help from Wood for Trees, WWF was able to design a scorecard that allowed up to 70 questions, collating responses from around 200 participants. The scorecard approach helped WWF monitor impact over time, helping charity leaders make data-driven decisions.