The traditional thinking around the use of big data for marketing, sales, and profit is changing; big data is gaining grounds in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Non-For-Profit (NFP) sector. Today, data is as relevant to humanitarian work as it is to private businesses - we are beginning to see how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Block Chain is used to make NFP operations more effective in areas like food rationing in refugee camps, improved nutritional measures for ages 0-5 in poor countries.
Micro-simulation of digital data is improving our knowledge of food value chain from field to fork. For instance, the French start-up Phenix runs a web-based marketplace to connect supermarkets with end-of-life food stocks to NGOs and consumers who could use them. The platform enables the supermarkets to save the costs of disposal, gives consumable products a second life, and alleviates some of the social and environmental burden of waste and poverty. (Clarisse Magnin, Digital McKensey, August 2016).
Because, NGOs and NFP agencies are not profit driven, data completely measures different sets of outcomes to profit gains. Non-for-profit measure success in multiple and often intangible levels, including accomplishment of missions and goals, improvements in human, informational and organizational capita. The number of network and how often funders are willing to sustain funding are equally important assets for measuring success stories in many NFP organizations.
However, NFP assets are very complicated to measure for many reasons since what constitute an asset is subjective and can change overtime. Big Data technologies can minimize such complications by creating flexible and manageable indicator paths for to collect and measure results in real time and over a long period in non-profit ventures.
Knowing what data to collect, how to collect it and what to measure? takes time and costs to arrive at. Despite these challenges, there is an increasing demand for NFP to be better transparent and accountable to tax payers’ money.
Accountability has become a necessary requirement to secure additional funding therefore, like the private sector it is important to measure the success of non-profit organizations. A survey conducted by the Social Enterprise program at Harvard Business School found that non-profit organizations' board members frequently considered performance measurement to be one of their top three concerns.
This article discusses how three data technologies are helping NGOs and NFP to capture data and measure performance at organizational, projects and program levels.
1. DATA COLLECTION
Web and mobile based data collection technology reduces data errors by 62%, it removes costs by 71% and saves time by 70% according to iRadar, World Bank and USAID respectively.
Data collection applications come with flexible APIs to link Android devices, IOS and local systems with data sources, this way NFP organizations get to spend less for new technology skills and equipment while collecting data faster and safer.
Many mobile data collection technologies are cheap and simple to use, some of them were created to meet NFP specific requirements. Community and rural based data collection APP don’t need internet to connect and share data. All these technologies were invented to help NGOs and NFP optimize each Dollar spent in performance measurement and evaluation.
Time and money saved through the use of data collection technology can be used to augment operations and administrative costs.