Viewpoints

Do Good Data: Revolutionizing the Social Sector

Andrew Means reflects on the fourth annual Do Good Data conference and looks forward to Do Good Data’s new partnership with Stanford PACS.

 

On April 27th, the Chicago Hyatt Regency ballroom began filling up with 900 people from 20 countries and nearly every state. They were gathering for two days of learning, community, and nerdery at the fourth annual Do Good Data conference.

 

When I started Do Good Data three and a half years ago, I would have never imagined it growing to this scale and with such expansive reach. One of the things I love about the conference is how entire organizations have rallied around it. Some organizations sent groups of five, eight, even ten or more to Chicago! Attendees cut across development, program, and IT, but they left their silos and came together to talk about how data could drive their organizations forward.

 

The growth of Do Good Data shows the hunger for professional development, particularly when it comes to data and technology. Data is transforming how our organizations are operating, interacting with one another, and serving our constituents. Yet many in the sector feel like they are in over their head when it comes to their own ability to actually execute on these changes. For many, simply knowing how to do VLOOKUP in Excel put them in the position of being their organization’s “Data Person.”

 

As the conference organizer and host, one of my favorite activities is standing in the back of the room as people from organizations around the world showcase their work and help skill-up their peers. Walking from workshop to workshop, I loved seeing laptops open, not with email or Slack, but with newly created Tableau dashboards or Python code. Attendees were able to gain new skills in a safe environment built by, and for, people just like them.

 

I love that the Do Good Data community is one that is just so awesomely nerdy. It’s a place where you can open up your computer and share some code, talk about the challenges of de-duplication, and hear from others about their frustrations with dashboards.

 

But it’s not a group of techno-futurists who believe that technology will save the world.

 

It’s a community that views data and technology as tools that can support the very human work of making the world a better place. Over the two days at Do Good Data, we certainly talked about data visualization, machine learning, and dashboards, but we also talked about the importance of funding following impact, creating cultures of evidence, and how to lead up to boards and executive directors.

 

I am so glad to see a passion for people and solving social problems get paired with data and technical skills. I think the combination of such values and expertise, in individuals and organizations, will lead to transformative change.

 

That’s why I was so excited to announce at the end of Do Good Data that, going forward, we’ll be partnering with Stanford PACS! This exciting partnership will enable us to bring the training and community we’ve been offering at Data Analysts for Social Good to a much broader audience of social sector professionals.

 

In joining forces, we will build the community and provide more opportunities to connect with one another. We will host more gatherings to bring together those with technical and data skills with leading social institutions. We will create more content and trainings for those feeling overwhelmed when it comes to utilizing data in their organizations, and we will share more case studies about what is working and what is not.

 

My hope is that, together, we will be able to create the hub for data in the social sector. With many shared goals, Stanford PACS (including SSIR, Markets for Goodand the Digital Civil Society Lab) and Do Good Data will develop usable tools and resources for practitioners across nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies.

 

I believe to my core that data is revolutionizing our sector. I am excited to partner with the great team at Stanford to help move us closer to that future. Be on the lookout for new opportunities and resources over the coming months!

 

 


 

For more information about Do Good Data, visit their website here

 

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