In the age of over sharing, is there a way to leverage our penchant for bulk data collection to make positive changes for the greater good?
This was the same question posed by researchers at Kaiser Permanente, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Network Impact. Researchers concluded the social sector should work together to combine the data they compile separately and develop a shared ecosystem of information. This “data ecosystem” stands to provide actionable knowledge and data critical to improve our communities and effect positive change.
By working with key stakeholders, including funders, organizations and innovators, Network Impact identified gaps and opportunities for leveraging data and technology to better serve the missions of nonprofits.
The social good sector needs to collectively invest in a data ecosystem to accelerate change and individual missions. This begins with the development of a data infrastructure supported by trained personnel or temporary fellowships from within the tech industry. Staff members need the tools and understanding to effectively collect, analyze, digest and access the data.
When given the proper tools, staff members can advance equity and social justice by using data to reveal disparities and inform action and progress. By analyzing data from the data ecosystem, rather than individual organizational finding, organizations will be able to identify patterns and trends that drive action.
Action Items: Invest in a data ecosystem, utilize data as a tool and work towards the creation of a data-informed culture. In the social good sector these items begin within the organization, through data integration for all personnel. Every staff member, including field level members, should be participating in data analysis or at the very least have access to data.
Critical Investment Priorities
The first step for organizations to begin utilizing data is to invest in data infrastructure. This means investing in technology upgrades and capacity building, including necessary staff training. The final investment priority is research and discovery. By supporting grassroots advocacy and advancing the data ecosystem organizations can serve as an example of what well-implemented data utilization looks like.
There are repositories of data already in place but a framework needs to be established to create easy access. This is the gap a data ecosystem stands to fill. More importantly it is the bridge that will drive action and accelerate change to improve our society.
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Many thanks to Network Impact for this webinar and insight into their latest report.