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. 

Related blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out the related posts below.

Using Data Visualisation To Bring Data & Analytics To Life

The majority of the human population are visual learners. Our brains are wired in such a way where we can register 36,000 visual messages per hour, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. In short, one of the best ways to truly assimilate and understand new-found knowledge is through clear and digestible imagery.  Because of this valuable insight, we are now witnessing the fast-growing trend of Data Visualisation. Over the next six years, the value of Data Visualisation tools is expected to reach $19.2 billion, over double what it was in 2019.  Data & Analytics is one key area where data visualisation is used continuously. The raw data collected on a daily basis by Data Analysts can be incredibly time-consuming to sift through, not forgetting near-impossible to form palatable findings from. However, through the use of data visualisation tools such as graphs, heat maps, charts and infographics, confusing, text-based data can be transformed and brought to life. So, how can Data Visualisation help your business? Greater understanding of your data As Lydia, our Senior Recruitment Consultant, stated in her most recent article – data insights have the capability of not only improving decision-making, but also allow you to spot key trends, errors and predict future challenges. Nevertheless, all of these brilliant capabilities of data insights can only occur when teams can garner an in-depth understanding of the data being presented to them.  Without a background in statistics, which very few members of any team would possess, the raw data simply wouldn’t mean anything, and key insights could be missed. Utilising data visualisations not only makes data more tangible, but it also allows every team member to understand the data, make decisions and implement changes more efficiently. Standing out from the competition The effectiveness of Data Visualisation is no secret, and time and time again it’s been proved that this way of presenting data is far more likely to produce results than simply reviewing text.  Research within Analytics Insight reported that businesses using data discovery tools are 28 per cent more likely to find timely information compared to their dashboard-using counterparts, and 48 per cent of business intelligence users at companies with visualisation tools are able to find the information they need without the help of a specialist team.  Nevertheless, despite the incredible benefits, only 26 per cent of businesses globally are using data visualisation tools.  While the reasons for this slow uptake are varied, it’s clear that those companies who are willing to invest in Data Visualisation are far more likely to stand a head above their competitors. It can improve customer experience 98 per cent of companies will use data to help drive a better customer experience, but it doesn’t always mean that this data is collected, managed or presented well.  Data is, and should be, used as a way to back up what brands are saying, especially if they’re shouting from the rooftops about how fantastic they are.  When a business or brand uses accurate Data Visualisation to tell this story – for example, the percentage of consumers who report high levels of customer satisfaction, or the amount of money donated to CSR projects – audiences will respond much better than if the claim appears to be empty words without any evidence.  Data Visualisation is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to communicate data, both internally and externally. The comprehensible formats available enables information to be processed with ease, and for learnings and understandings to be absorbed and implemented with much more efficiency than text-based raw data. It’s clear that this trend is only going to grow in popularity as businesses begin to put more investment behind it in order to reap the benefits and watch the positive impact on their bottom lines prosper.  For examples of how Harnham uses Data Visualisation, head over to our recent research reports.  If you're looking to take the next step in your career or build out your Data & Analytics team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

This Is Why You Shouldn't Misunderstand The Capabilities Of Your Data & Insights

The value of the Big Data Analytics market will soon surpass $200 billion. In fact, it’s set to be worth $229.4 Billion by 2025. So, as organisations invest into how they use data to engage with their consumers, and as growth in the industry continues, there comes a unique opportunity for marketers across the globe to capitalise on the power of data. Yet, with such an overwhelming amount of data at our fingertips, knowing how (or the best way), in which to harness data use within organisations can cause barriers to organisational success. For marketing teams, in order to pull on the capabilities of data, there are a few key areas to consider to make sure that you don’t misunderstand Data & Insights. Get up to speed on data literacy For professionals entering the industry at a more junior level, or with less experience than their colleagues, taking the time to get up to speed on data literacy is crucial.  Get some exposure to a range of experiences, skills and wider trends in the industry, networking with and making use of the insights and expertise of the people around you to become an agile and data-driven marketing professional. In doing this, you have the ability to understand what the purpose and value is when extracting data and applying this to strategic campaign plans. Data is a tool, not the answer With so much data at our fingertips, it can be a challenge to determine exactly what you need to pull from this to propel a project or campaign forward. Marketers should be looking to insights to curate or inform ideas – you won’t find this in cold, hard data. It was particularly interesting to see this point echoed by Pinterest’s CMO Andréa Mallard recently, “When it comes to insights work, some marketers are missing the mark by gathering huge amounts of data and expecting to find a strategy within it”. Working through sheets and sheets of data won’t give you the answer. Yet, in recognising that what works is a combination of utilising data and exploring consumer trends alongside understanding what your audience need from the organisation, marketing teams can use data effectively and as part of a broader strategy. Explore how you make decisions Improved decision-making can be attributed to data-driven methods of marketing, particularly when it comes to attracting customers. Data has the capability of providing unique insight into consumer habits, which can inform how organisations reach new audiences in the future. Achieving this means relying on data just that little bit more. Allow your decisions to be driven by what your Data & Insights are telling you. In ignoring it or misunderstanding it, you’re closing off what could be a fruitful and successful avenue in the organisation. Take the time to learn about how data can impact your work and seek external specialists to support this process too. An organisation’s ability to collect, organise, analyse and react to data will be the thing that sets them apart from their competitors, especially in what we expect to become an increasingly competitive market. As data is used to inform how an organisation interacts with its consumers, operates its processes or reaches new Marketing & Insights teams, it’s vital that business leaders ensure that their marketers are truly part of the data-driven culture and mindset that an organisation adopts. If you're looking for your next Data & Analytics role or are seeking the best candidates on the market, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

RELATED Jobs

recently viewed jobs