Field Notes

Breaking Down Barriers to Expand Data for Social Good

  Interest in topics like “data science,” “analytics,” and “big data” is growing in the nonprofit and education sectors. Attendance at training programs, salons, and conferences like NTEN’s annual conference, Do Good Data or Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Data on Purpose is booming.   And it’s no surprise – we are in the midst of […]

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How Funders Can Support a Strong Data Technology Ecosystem

  The big idea behind the Markets for Good community is that the effective use of program results data across sectors would improve programs, make it easier to direct money to the most effective programs, and improve the lives of the vast number of people served by nonprofits.   This sounds great in theory, but […]

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Expanding Engagement Through Influencers

  A challenge that nonprofits face every day is: How do we reach and inspire new supporters?   A powerful way to increase your organization’s reach is to develop an influencer engagement plan. This means actively recruiting people who will act as message catalysts and speak passionately about the work your organization does with their friends, family, and colleagues — […]

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How Come This Foundation’s Grantees Love its Reporting Process So Much?

    Most charities hate the reporting which funders make them do. Notionally a learning process, it’s often just compliance, box-ticking and a dead-weight cost. But not so apparently for the Inter-American Foundation, an independent US government agency which grant-funds citizen-led community development across Latin America and the Caribbean. IAF seems to be a positive outlier: […]

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Imagine…

  Imagine if we used digital technology to transform social good in the UK.   I don’t just mean the adoption of new tech by charities—although much of this is brilliant. We increasingly see digital innovations bolted on to charity fundraising, communications or (less often) services: the recent attempt by the Samaritans to sift the […]

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In the Fight for Open Nonprofit Data, Everything Changed in June

  In recent years, the federal government has taken strides towards making its public data available in standardized, machine-readable formats. In the future, we will look back at the nation’s first open data mandate, the DATA Act of 2014, and see it was critical not just in its transformation of federal spending information into open data, but […]

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Using Data to Drive Donations

  Online crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for nonprofits to reach new donors and enhance fundraising efforts. This exciting format brings with it new opportunities, but also questions about how best to take advantage to raise awareness and important funds for their cause.   Since 2002, the nonprofit GlobalGiving—a global crowdfunding community for nonprofits—has helped […]

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Bridging the Environmental Data Divide: When Earth Texts Home

A little over a year ago, we set out to do something ambitious. We set out to build environmental sensors that would bridge an under-recognized digital divide: the environmental data divide. Most sensors require Internet signal to report data, as well as fixed power infrastructure. Much of the world doesn’t have either, meaning that we […]

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Adventures in the Data Revolution: What Revolution?

  On Sunday 29 March ministers from 54 African countries will gather in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to endorse an African Data Consensus, a roadmap for the Data Revolution in Africa. Which begs the question: are we really talking about a revolution and, if so, what kind of revolution?   Talk of a data revolution […]

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Adventures in the Data Revolution: When the Data Tells no Story

  In part one we discussed the challenges of data collection in Uganda. In today’s follow up piece, we have further hurdles that we need to overcome and some rude awakenings in making sense of the collected and analysed data.   This lesson started when we embarked on an effort to build our first comprehensive, […]

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