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Why Data Management Is An NGO’s Best Friend

While it may not seem like data management is an obvious ‘must-have’ for NGOs and not-for-profit organizations, this is actually one of the most important operating concerns facing the industry today. Often, staff are stuck spending valuable time sorting through file cabinets and tracking down spreadsheets for records. In our increasingly data-driven world, this archaic practice is holding back non-profits from achieving their full potential and best utilizing their resources.

Global visual analytics provider Qlik has identified this major setback, and has decided to take action via their CSR initiatives. Qlik works with more than 250 non-profit organizations to arm them with the visual analytics and business intelligence tools they need to track and take advantage of their data. The Qlik Sense platform allows organizations to store all of their data in one user-friendly dashboard where they can measure and visualize progress through simple, yet comprehensive charts and graphs. Qlik even allows users to drill into specific details such as data from past efforts in various regions, or volunteer availability by age or occupation. By reducing the time it takes to process data and track towards goals, organizations can more easily draw strategic insights into what is working and where they can improve to further their mission.

A recent report from Every Action found that 87% of non-profit professionals believe data to be important to operations at their organization, but just a mere 6% feel confident that the data is being used effectively. The non-profit sector realizes the importance of data, but equally recognizes that they are not fully tapping into its potential.

For instance, WeSeeHope, a UK-based development organization, collects information on tables about members of its Village Investor Program (“VIP”) throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Members of the VIP groups pool monies in a “savings pot” and provide loans to members to start small businesses such as farming, fishing or tailoring. The groups are all about trust between members to support each other to gain a livelihood. WeSeeHope supports over 350 such groups across Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania totaling almost 7,000 women with savings tools and training. Data is collected on profits earned, loans made, businesses started, etc. From this data, WeSeeHope is able to show that group members are raising their daily level of income from $1 per day to over $5-7 per day. This provides a valuable tool not only for the continued success of the groups, but also to gain additional support for even more groups to start making a greater impact on families and entire communities.

For many non-profit organizations, time is of the essence. One organization in particular that is perpetually dealing with fight-or-flight situations is Direct Relief, a global humanitarian aid organization with a mission to improve the health and lives of people in crisis worldwide. Direct Relief acts as the humanitarian supply chain by mobilizing and shipping essential medical resources to those dealing with emergencies or poverty. As they are unable to predict how world events will pan out, and when crises such as an earthquake or Ebola epidemic will strike in any given corner of the world, Direct Relief must be able to track and measure the medical supply donations they receive in real time. They also need to keep close record of where they are sending specific resources, all while considering the added complexity that the drugs they transport have very precise shipping requirements to ensure that their integrity is maintained.

In utilizing Qlik, Direct Relief is able to see the big picture beyond their data. They are now equipped with systems to observe every piece of inventory and every recipient in real time, displayed on monitors along with interactive maps visualizing where most supplies are required. In drilling down on the dashboard, staff can interact with the data to ensure expiration dates meet shipping time requirements. At the same time, Direct Relief’s medical supply partners can proactively access the dashboard as well to see what products are required, enabling them to send resources in a timely manner, minimizing waste and delays.

Beyond rapid response based efforts, visual analytics can allow non-profits focused on global environmental challenges to work towards solving issues, such as air quality or water scarcity. This can be done by pooling information from disparate sources around the world, either via sensors or traditional data.

In 2015, Qlik joined forces with the Circle of Blue, Columbia Water Center, University of California Irvine and the Pacific Institute to bring together and learn from a variety of data from groundwater and fresh water flows throughout California. Initially analyzing the American West, the initiative will soon be implemented nationally and eventually globally, providing insights into the availability and cleanliness of resources with real-time data analytics dashboards. Qlik will provide these dashboards to policy makers, corporations, and the public to inform and tackle the growing issue of fresh water availability. Through arming Circle of Blue and the other partners with these dashboards, Qlik is helping promote data-driven, strategic decision-making, encouraging the necessary steps to end water scarcity.

Data management can help non-profits make the world a better place, one data-driven decision at a time. The simple goal of Qlik’s CSR initiative is to empower NGOs worldwide to see the whole story in their data, allowing them to free up valuable time and resources, and above all stay one step ahead of public and environmental needs. When the goal of an organization is to save lives, improve environments or incite cultural progress, staying ahead of the curve is key.

Julie WhippleContributed by: Julie Whipple, Global Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Qlik. In this position, she directs the organization’s focus on empowering community-based and humanitarian non-profits to most effectively serve vulnerable populations through the program “Change Our World”. Prior to her current role, Ms. Whipple managed relationships with large enterprise organizations and agencies within the US Federal Government delivering valuable analytical solutions. Julie holds a BA degree in accounting from the University of Iowa.

 

 

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