From Idea to Impact: How Charities Use Data

Kirsty Garshong our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 11/29/2018 9:30 AM
It’s that time of year again. As the festive season draws near and we pull together wish lists, many of us also begin to think about how we can give back. Given that the UK spent over £7 billion this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, it’s not surprising that the idea of Giving Tuesday is becoming more and more popular. 

But with 160,000 registered charities in the UK alone, institutions are turning to data to find new ways to stand out and make a greater impact.  Far from just running quarterly reports, charities are now utilising the insights they gain from data to inform their strategies, improve their services and plan for the future. 

IDEAS


Given that not every charity is lucky enough to go viral with an Ice Bucket Challenge style video, there is a need to find other ways to stand out in such a crowded market. As such, many are looking to the data they have collected to help create a strategy.

Macmillan Cancer Support, one the UK’s biggest charities, wanted to see more success from one of their main fundraisers, ‘The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’. The event, which sees volunteers hold coffee and cake-fuelled gatherings across the country was revolutionised by data. By engaging with their database and researching what motivated fundraisers, they refocused their marketing around how the occasion could create an opportunity for people to meet up and chat, such as swapping ‘send for your free fundraising pack’ for ‘order your free coffee morning kit’. Whilst these amends may seem superficial, they had a major impact increasing funds raised from £15m to £20m. 

Some brands have taken this idea even further, using Data & Analytics tools to engage with potential donors. Homelessness charity Cyrenians’ data told them that there were a number of misconceptions about rough sleepers, including 15% of people believing that they were homeless by choice. To counter this they created an AI chatbot, named Alex, that allowed users to ask questions they may not have been comfortable asking a real person. 

Another charity using data tools to counter common misconceptions is Dyslexia Association. Their Moment of Dyslexia campaign saw them utilise facial recognition technology; the longer a person looked at their digital poster, the more jumbled up the words and letters became. By harnessing both insights and the technology made possible by data, they were able to offer an insight into what dyslexia is like for people who previously didn’t understand. 

INDIVIDUALS


A big issue facing a number of charities is trust. Following a series of recent scandals, the public are more sceptical than ever of how charities are run, and their use of data is no exception. This ‘trust deficit’ has resulted in vast amount of potential donors staying away, with recent research highlighting that only 11% of people are willing to share their data with a charity, even if it means a better service. 

Whilst charities with effective Data Governance are able to use their vast amount of data to enhance those business, those who mismanage it are likely to suffer. Following a cyber-attack that exposed the data of over 400,000 donors, the British and Foreign Bible Society were fined £100,000. As hackers were able to enter the network by exploiting a weak password, this serves as a timely reminder that our data needs not only to be clean, but secure. 

Financial implications aside, improper data usage can also do irreversible damage to a charity’s reputation. St Mungo’s has faced criticism for passing information about migrant homeless people to the Home Office, putting them at risk of deportation. Whilst they were cleared of any wrongdoing by the ICO, this controversial use of data has had a negative impact on the charity’s image. With a decline in the number of people donating to charity overall, anything that can put people off further is bad news. 

IMPACT


Whilst there is more demand than ever for charities to share their impact data, there is also more opportunity. With Lord Gus O’Donnell urging charities to make data an ‘organisation-wide priority’, many are going beyond publishing annual reports and fully embracing a culture shift.

Youth charity Keyfund have been able to justify how the spend their funds based on their impact data. Having heard concerns from fundraisers regarding whether their leisure projects were effective they looked at the data they had gathered from the 6,000 young people they were helping. What they found was that not only were their leisure projects effective, they had an even more positive impact than their alternatives, particularly for those from the most deprived area. This allowed them to continue to support these programs and even increase funding where necessary.

Going one step further are Street League, a charity that use sports programmes to tackle youth unemployment. Rather than share their impact data in quarterly, or even annual, reports they moved to real-time reporting. Interested parties can visit an ‘Online Impact Dashboard’ and see up-to-the-minute data about how the charity’s work is impacting the lives of the people it is trying to help. This not only allows for the most relevant data to be used strategically, but also supports the business holistically, gaining donor both attention and trust.

To stand out in the charity sector institutions need to take advantage of data. Not only can this be used to generate campaigns and streamline services but, when used securely and transparently, it can help rebuild trust and offer a competitive edge. 

If you want to make the world a better place by harnessing and analysing data, we may have a role for you.

Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to see how we can help you. 

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Using Data & Analytics To Plan Your Perfect Ski Trip

Using Data & Analytics To Plan Your Perfect Ski Trip

The Ski season may be drawing to a close, but it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Born and raised in the mountains of Austria, I have been skiing all of my life. For me, it’s about freedom, enjoying the views and forgetting about everything else.  But, since I’ve stepped into the world of Data & Analytics, I started to asked myself “what can I learn from my work that I can apply to my skiing”? After having a look around, I began to discover ways in which Data could support my passion. I’ve pulled together some of the most interesting things I’ve discovered and created this handy guide to help you prepare for your next trip. Here’s how you can use data to create the perfect ski trip.  Follow the snow Anyone who has skied before knows about the uncertainty before a trip. Will there be enough snow? Will the weather be good? Which resort is the most suited to my ability? Fortunately, somebody has already pulled this information together for you. Two "web spiders" were built via Scrapy, a Python framework used for data extraction, the first of which extracted ski resort data. The second spider, on the other hand, extracted daily snowfall data for each resort (2009 - present). After collecting Data from more than 600 ski resorts and spitting it into 7 main regions, the spiders were able to form a conclusion. The framework then pulled out key metrics, including the difficulty of runs, meaning that skiers are now able to decide which resort is most suitable for their ability.  As for the weather, onthesnow.com has recorded snowfall data from all major resorts, every year since 2009. We all know that good snow makes any trip better, so the collected data here will help skiers ensure they are prepared for the right weather, or even plan their trip around where the snow will be best.  Optimise your skis Ski manufacturing is a refined and complicated process, with each ski requiring many different materials to be built. Unfortunately, this often results in the best skis running out quickly as supply outspeeds demand.  To help speed up and improve the process, companies are implementing technologies like IBM Cognos* that monitor entire supply chains so that no matter how much demand increases, they have the materials to meet it.   Additionally, since the majority of companies have become more data-driven, production time has been reduced by weeks. Predictions for future demand has also become 50% more accurate, resulting in a drop of 30% idle time on production lines. Skip the Queue Tired of queuing for the ski lift? There’s good news. As they begin to make the most of data, ski resorts are introducing RFID* (Radio Frequency Identification) systems. These involve visitors purchasing cards with RFID chips included, allowing them to skip queues at the lifts as there is no need to check for fake passes. The data can then be utilised for gamification platforms to turn a skier’s time on the slopes into an interactive experience.  The shift towards Big Data not only has advantages for the visitors, but the management are also benefiting. In the past, it has been difficult to analyse skier’s data. Now, with automated and proper data management, the numbers can be crunched seamlessly and marketing campaigns can be directed at how people actually choose to ski.   Carve a Better Technique Skiing isn’t always easy, especially if you haven’t grown up with it. Usually, ski instructors are the solution but, in the age of Data & Analytics, there are other solutions. Jamie Grant and co-founder Pruthvikar Reddy have created an app called Carv 2.0, which allows you to be your own teacher. It works by using a robust insert that fits between the shell of your ski boots and the liner. It then gathers data from 48 pressure sensitive pads, and nine motion sensors.  This data is fed to a connected match-box size tracker unit, sitting on the back of your boots, before being relayed via Bluetooth to the Carv App on your phone. Carv can then measure your speed, acceleration and ski orientation a staggering 300 times a second.  Thanks to a complex set of algorithms this data is then converted into an easy to follow graphic display on your phone’s screen as well as verbal feedback from Carvella. The accuracy of this real-time data could make it a better instructor than any individual person.  Data & Analytics are helping streamline every part of our lives. Whilst the above can’t guarantee a perfect ski trip, they can help us minimise risks and optimize our performance and experience.  If you’re able to use data to improve day-to-day living, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with our expert consultants.  

Five Strategies To Modernise Your Workplace And Create A Smart Office

Five Strategies To Modernise Your Workplace And Create A Smart Office

By Laura Gayle, BusinessWomanGuide.org Smart technology is rapidly reshaping society. From cloud storage and mobile access to the internet of things and artificial intelligence, what was once regarded as science fiction is steadily becoming reality. In response, many employers are finding ways to modernize their workplaces by creating smart offices — not because it looks cool or is the trendy thing to do, but because they've discovered that doing so provides several tangible benefits. New devices, apps, and AI-driven tools can not only make your office smarter, they also can position you for better marketing and sales efforts and provide competitive advantages in your industry. Additionally, creating a smart office offers both employees and customers a seamless experience and can attract talented millennial workers. Since millennials naturally adapt to tech innovations, they can assist in this transition to bring your company to the next level. Here are five strategies to modernise your workplace with smart tech. 1. Use cloud-based storage Cloud-based storage offers both convenience and efficiency. Many among today's workforce probably don't even realise there was a time when offices were full of filing cabinets and computer equipment. Now that mobile access has been fully integrated into nearly all workplaces, much of the bulky equipment that previously took up space is disappearing. Filing cabinets? Paper files? Things of the past. Workers today don't typically spend hours every week filing stacks of papers because most documents are digitised and stored in the cloud. Other cloud-based technologies, such as remote workplaces and managed print services, are replacing old ways of conducting business. Cloud technology has been a significant game-changer for the office environment. Not only are files and documents stored on the cloud, but also businesses are using cloud-based platforms as a part of their services or customer experiences. Think about how much “software as a service” (a model in which software is licensed and accessed remotely instead of being downloaded on a user’s computer) has become a standardised part of doing business. This is all thanks to cloud technology. As time moves forward, expect it to continue making a significant impact on the modern workplace and customer experience. 2. Invest in voice-activated devices Various well-known gadgets found in "smart” homes or apartments are now making strides in the office setting, too. For example, voice-activated products such as Siri, Echo, Alexa, and Nest are commonly found in the workplace, adding functionality by offering a seamless user experience. Employees speak and the equipment automatically does what is asked — no more fiddling with equipment and trying to get things up and running manually. Voice-activated tech also allows workers to multitask and get things done faster, such as: Coordinating and syncing calendars Sending data requests Ordering supplies Reporting problems to the appropriate departments Streamlining IT requests These are just a handful of the many tasks voice-activated tech can perform. Businesses have steadily begun to include these types of products to make conference rooms even smarter. While this concept isn't mainstream in the office quite yet, it's not hard to image it becoming the norm within the next few years as this tech fully matures. Companies focused on modernising their workplaces are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon to get a leg up on the competition. These companies will be well ahead of the game when such tech initiatives do eventually become standard in the office. 3. Use tech to put offices in the comfort zone As modern offices evolve into open-space floor plans, they've become more informal and far more flexible. With that concept in mind, offices today are more focused on comfort — a stark contrast to the drab cubicle environments of yesteryear. Shifting to the open-design work environment has been a challenge for many; however, businesses are finding ways to make this transition easier through smarter tech. Solutions they are integrating into their spaces include: Hue lighting Virtual reality meeting rooms 360-degree video conferencing Keyless entry Smart tools not only appeal to workers because of their convenience and "coolness" factor; they also serve the practical purposes of enhancing comfort, personalising the remote experience, and even preventing repetitive stress injuries. 4. Integrate tech innovations to enhance the customer experience Businesses are investing in smart technology, and customers are reaping the benefits. As companies streamline their operations and customer service processes, customers are widely experiencing the convenience and simplicity associated with smart tech. Here are some features they currently enjoy: Chatbots for instant two-way communication AI-based customer learning opportunitiesPersonalised insights and recommendations Automation and custom ordering  Cloud storage of customer information and preference history Many industries are relying on artificial intelligence to improve their services. Businesses that do not offer this level of tech to customers will soon find themselves unable to meet heightened consumer expectations. 5. Use AI to gain a competitive advantage Perhaps you don't want to go as far as microchipping your employees (yes, this is also a growing trend) or issuing them Segways, but there are a lot of other relatively new gadgets and AI-driven tools that can boost the "smartness" of your business — not to mention, amp up your competitive advantage. For instance, you can use AI to track the habits and patterns of your customer base while they spend time on your website and determine where they are in their "customer journey" with your brand. Armed with this information, you can customise their web experience, along with your communications to them.  This personalisation can go a long way in your marketing efforts. After all, 80 percent of consumers say they are "more likely" to do business with a company that is able to give them a personalised experience. It's also important to know that research indicates customers want way more than basic personalisation. Using smart tech can easily help you bring things up to the next level. Smart tech adds significant value to the modern office in many ways. It's unwise to purchase tech because it's trendy, but when integrated with purpose and vision, many company decision-makers find this investment offers significant benefits and, in the end, pays off nicely. Harnham are the global leaders in Data & Analytics recruitment. Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

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