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Empowering Non-Profits To Employ Analytics

Tableau Foundation helps local VWOs make sense of big data

All organisations collect data, but successfully analysing and acting on this information can be a bewildering prospect, particularly for volunteer welfare organisations (VWO) that have limited resources. Tableau Foundation is committed to changing this. 

In June this year, it awarded a three-year visual analytics grant to the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the central hub for volunteering and philanthropy in Singapore. 

Through this partnership, NVPC can empower local VWOs to harness the power of data analytics and translate it into visual interfaces to drive social impact. 

Neal Myrick

“Data is simply information for people to make decisions. The need for valuable insights into one’s work is no different just because that work is of a charitable nature” — Neal Myrick, director of Social Impact at Tableau Foundation.

Philanthropy has flourished over the past decade, with Singaporeans donating $1.4 billion to charity organisations in 2015. As funding levels increase, so do the complexities of effective giving and the demand for transparency. 

Data analytics is essential for VWOs as it helps to identify measurable indicators to see if the organisation is fulfilling its mission and goals. 

“Data is simply information for people to make decisions. The need for valuable insights into one’s work is no different just because that work is of a charitable nature,” observes Neal Myrick, Director of Social Impact at Tableau Foundation.  

“VWO data offers insights into program design and fundraising, and can be used to measure impact and to communicate with partners and policymakers.” 

Tableau’s mission is to help people see and understand data, simplifying processes and accelerating response rates. “Because Tableau’s live database connections make it possible to connect to data in real time, people who are used to receiving reports every few months can now do so every few minutes,” says Myrick. 

Valued at over $110,000, the grant is the first to be awarded in Singapore. Spearheaded by the team at Tableau Software, a global leader in visual analytics, Tableau Foundation will provide software licenses to NVPC, as well as in-person and online training services through the Tableau Service Corps, a volunteer network of Tableau experts eager to help non-profits do more with their data. 

“The Tableau team and NVPC have a shared vision of putting insightful, actionable data in the hands of supporters [to position them] to make impactful decisions,” says Myrick.

In fact, NVPC is already using Tableau’s visual analytics platform to connect and visualise data quickly, track campaigns, gain actionable insights and share secure information for data-driven decision-making. 

Its team has benefitted greatly, using the platform to perform targeted email marketing based on user profiles and behaviours. As a result, it led to a 56 per cent increase in donation amounts on between April 2016 and April 2017. 

The Tableau platform can also be used to increase transparency and accountability, create, connect and centralise networks, discover new trends and share compelling stories. 

Although building out data systems and reviewing historical data can be an illuminating process for VWOs, it can also be confrontational for staff who discover misunderstandings or missed opportunities in their work.  

“There is often a tendency for people who are confronted with new data to be defensive and try to justify their prior decisions,” explains Myrick. 

Rather than positioning new insights purely as a measure of past work, Myrick observes that effective organisations are able to keep their focus on the future. 

“For example, we have seen non-profits in the US develop exercises like ‘data walks’ with staff and stakeholders to initiate conversations about actions that can be taken. 

 “Because they have taken the time to build a shared understanding and camaraderie across teams and partnerships, the data becomes a shared language for decision-making and a platform for continued collaboration.”  

Data analytics services are usually expensive, but Tableau has this covered too. Alongside its grants, Tableau Foundation supports VWOs by providing free licenses of its visual analytics software and discounts on training programs to selected non-profits. 

“VWOs—especially those working with open data—have an opportunity to post visualisations [using our free software] Tableau Public that can reinforce the importance of the work they’re doing and share their story with the world,” he says. 

With the ongoing support of Tableau Foundation, NVPC will bolster non-profits in Singapore to do good with data, which in turn, will enhance and enrich what they do best for others. 

Click here to find out more about how Tableau Foundation can help VWOs make a difference with their data.