We link back to our ’Big Data, Small Communities’ feature to examine how charities are making use of data to navigate COVID-19
The Guardian newspaper recently reported that Vodafone’s internet usage had increased 30% in the UK and Opinium research recorded that households are now spending a whopping 41 hours a week online. New digital data has emerged from COVID-19, and charities have been making the best of the time spent online.
We link back to our feature on ‘Big Data, Small Communities’, and examine how the coronavirus has provided a wealth of data for charity digital leaders to collect and make use of.
New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), the charity supporting the wider non-profit and social sector, has used big data to build an interactive COVID-19 dashboard for charities to interrogate.
“Our goal is for charities to use data to allocate resources more effectively. We are concerned, for example, that areas at high risk but with less social sector support will not loudly advocate for themselves or put in funder applications as much as places with a stronger social infrastructure. Data can stop them going unseen,” said NPC Policy Manager Tom Collinge.
The dashboard takes underlying big data from the ONS. Intending to help charities make the best use of their own limited funds, the interactive dashboard shows where COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people. Some of the preliminary findings include:
British Red Cross Society has also been making use of big data to assess how vulnerable UK populations are to the virus. Using the online hosting service GitHub, the charity has been compiling useful datasets to understand the effect of COVID-19. The charity has looked at population vulnerability ‘factors.’ Topics which the British Red Cross Society has reviewed include BAME, food security, and hardship factors.
Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with universities University of Cambridge, Swansea University, the University of Strathclyde and Queen’s University Belfast, has been active in gathering digital data. The team used digital surveys through YouGov to figure out people’s emotional responses to the emergency, stress drivers, and coping mechanisms.
Helping to shed light on the impact of the virus, the results of the digital survey and big data have been included in a report online. The collaboration concluded that 20% of all those surveyed were worried about losing their job, and more than one-third of those in full-time employment were worrying about losing their job. The survey also looked at the mental health of those employed versus unemployed, showing how unemployed people were coping less well than those employed. The report recommended that Universal Credit be advanced to help alleviate pandemic stress.
For charity digital leaders interested in big data, the survey showed how charities can deep dive into COVID-19 data online and influence policy with the results.
Known for their headline statistics on the homeless, Shelter UK is no stranger to using big data. Similar to their annual Christmas appeals, Shelter has used big data and consolidated statistics to drive their COVID-19 digital fundraising efforts. To highlight, charity digital leaders at the homelessness charity have looked at big data for its emergency appeal: “£56.95 is the extra cost of the software licences we need to keep answering emergency calls during this crisis.” For charity digital leaders, chopping and changing existing internal data to motivate fundraising efforts can have a big impact.
Big data opportunities are not just for research-based charities. With funding for charities crunched by coronavirus restrictions, digital fundraising efforts can offer charities opportunities to collect information on new donors. Earlier, Charity Digital showcased opportunities for digital leaders organising virtual events. With new donors registering for virtual events online, there is huge potential to learn more about the demographics and donation habits of supporters.
The new data could be incorporated into charity CRM systems, building a better picture of audiences. For charity marketing and communications teams, additional information can add to the personalisation of messages.