Save the Children turns to data analytics to match children to sponsors

Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, hopes the project will serve as a springboard to further analytics initiatives

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Data analytics has immense potential for Save the Children. It could help the charity get quicker insights into the populations it serves, maximise the allocation of its limited resources and discover new ways of improving the lives of children.

The charity, an international nongovernmental organization based in the UK, has collected a vast amount of information in its 100-year history, but a workforce of around 24,000 staff helping 155 million children across 120 countries has created a messy data landscape that limits the impact.

"Because Save the Children is a large organisation and we're working in so many different places it's often really difficult to get the data about what we're doing where and how well things are working," Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, tells Computerworld UK.

"It's not that the data is not out there; it's out there, but it's everywhere. so organising it in a way that we can better use it is key."

To maximise the value of data , Save the Children has joined Domo for Good (D4G), a social programme designed to leverage the Domo platform at non-profits.

Their first project aims to use data to quickly match children with sponsors who want to support the charity's programmes in that child's community and then track the impact.

"Right now, it's still very clunky, and it takes us a while to make those matches," Miles admits. "We want to be able to do that quicker."

Building the system

The project began when staff from Save the Children explained the problem to Domo, the information they needed and how they wanted to use it. Domo then helped them map the data they needed across Save the Children's various Excel spreadsheets, and work out how the information could create a useful analytics system.

Domo developed a dashboard that will allow Save the Children to more quickly connect sponsors to children. It shows the number of children that are available for sponsorship in each country and the number of children that the charity aims to sponsor throughout the year.

The Global Sponsorship team will receive daily updates on the number of children available for assistance, while country managers can use the information to allocate their resources to the areas with the most pressing needs.

"We can match the total number of sponsorships against the targets," says Miles. "Then we can know if we're running behind and want to change our marketing programs so we're getting more sponsors for that part of the world versus this part of the world.

"It's giving us the ability to better manage our plans that we set out at the beginning of the year for our country offices, making sure that we're reaching that plan and switching things if we need to try to get more sponsors in Nepal, for example, or more sponsors in Mexico."

The system is also connected to the charity's financial flows, which will help ensure that the donations are getting out faster to the programmes in the community.

"That's super important, because that's been a little bit clunky," says Miles. "It always gets to the right place, but it affects the speed at which we can then transfer the funds that go along with that sponsorship into the community where that child is."

Miles advises other organisations exploring analytics to start with a straightforward project with a clear problem to solve before working on more advanced ideas. Domo had initially suggested around 10 different projects to Save the Children. If the sponsorship programme proves successful, Miles would like to develop Domo's other ideas.

"I hope we can get to those on the next wave," she says. "But I would start with something super simple yet impactful that's going to really help you, but also can prove to your team that this is actually going to work and going to be a good improvement to what you do."

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