External Data: Making it Work For You

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The Approach

The analyst began with a scoping study of the organisation’s work programmes, past and present, to propose options for how the work should proceed. After discussions with the senior managers, a two-pronged approach was chosen. This involved: firstly, producing detailed research, reference material and guidance on the different types and sources of information available which could be useful to the different stages of the organisation’s work (from high-level planning and fundraising, to project planning, operation and evaluation); and secondly making practical contributions during the course of the project, both to make useful real-time contributions to existing projects and to demonstrate possibilities. The latter included in-depth seminars on 2 complex subjects to all the organisation’s staff, and specific analytical contributions to a few current projects working with individual staff.

The Client

Reach: an organisation matching skilled volunteers to charities that need them.

The Client's Problem

Needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of matching processes, free up resource, develop more value adding activities.

The Solution

  • Provide a reference document and guidance on the range of possibilities, with illustrations
  • Provide specific step-by-step guidance on exploiting a particular information source that should be of frequent value
  • Work with individual staff to make and demonstrate practical contributions to current projects
  • Provide 2 in-depth seminars on specific complex subjects, to illustrate some more extensive uses of data

The Benefits

  • The organisation has greater capacity to exploit external statistics and other information in the different aspects of its work, eg overall planning and prioritisation, fundraising, project management and evaluation, and so to improve its effectiveness
  • Some existing projects have already improved their planning, fundraising and evaluation, improving the organisation’s impact and reputation
  • Staff and partners have improved knowledge about some relevant complex issues, improving their personal credibility and authority and leading to greater effectiveness and influence for the organisation as a whole