The benefits of data have long been understood in business circles. But in the so-called “Third Sector,” data and real-time analytics can also be powerful tools in efforts to alleviate poverty, improve public health, increase agricultural productivity, and educate youth.
When shared, data allows philanthropists, development agencies and social investors—as well as those they support—to know what works and what doesn’t, identify funding or knowledge gaps, and demonstrate impact. Ultimately, grantors, grantees and their partners will be able to intervene with greater knowledge and precision.
At the upcoming 2013 Global Philanthropy Forum Conference, April 15-17 in Redwood City, CA, we’ll explore how data—big and small—is being used to advance inclusive development. And we’ll hear from the innovators from all sectors who are using data to test new strategies to enhance their impact, including:
- Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation, which has created an interactive “heat map” of its $4 billion in grants over the last 13 years with a goal of greater information sharing. And by making the underlying code freely available to other grantmakers, they hope to encourage the same in others.
- Salman Khan, Founder of Khan Academy, which tracks data for students and classrooms to better tailor lessons at both levels. By putting access to individual and group data at teachers’ finger tips—information teachers should have had years ago—Khan Academy believes they can transform education for the better.
- Paul Kukubo, Chief Executive of the Kenya ICT Board, which launched the Kenya Open Data Initiative. This initiative makes key government data on education, energy, health, water and sanitation, population and poverty freely available to the public through an easy-to-use online portal and has been lauded as an important step to improving governance in the country.
- Linda Kwamboka, Co-founder of M-Farm, a transparency tool for Kenyan farmers that uses SMS to provide retail price information on their products. In addition, it aggregates data on farmers’ orders and products to maximize both purchasing and selling power.
- Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO of Benetech, which is helping human rights advocates move from anecdotes to evidence. They take tens of thousands of individual stories and turn them into analysis that helps prove when cases of mass violence are planned and systematically executed policy rather than isolated incidents.
- Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse, which has set up global innovations labs and is using data sources and real-time analytics to help the public sector better understand, plan or evaluate a response in regions where people are losing the fight against hunger, poverty and disease.