Using data for social impact

We’re excited about our very first data volunteering event in London this weekend, when data scientists are volunteering their services to help third sector organisations extract real value from data.

Charities often create huge amounts of data and know that they could transform the way they deliver services if they were able to analyse it in detail. And a number of charities are already exploring the potential of open data intelligence to support their campaigning and advocacy,improve fundraising and offer more effective and targeted service delivery.

But many charities do not realise that data analysis could help them to be a lot more effective, or have the resources to investigate it in detail and find out exactly what their data needs are.

This will be an opportunity for charities to access data expertise they might not be able to afford, and for data scientiststo use their skills to help charities to perform better and make a real social impact.

The challenge is always how to bring together these two groups of people. But we have extensive expertise of matching professional skills to volunteering opportunities. We’ve been connecting businesses and communities for the last 13 years, delivering programmes for EE, BT, Ernst & Young and the Cabinet Office to name just a few. And at TimeBank, we’ve always believed that the very best volunteering comes about when people do what they are best at.

So we partnered with FlyingBinary and Charity IT Leaders to design this event. On Saturday, the charities will define the ways they’d like their data to work harder, on issues from NHS reforms to youth unemployment. Then the experts will get to work, analyzing the data over the weekend to help the charities tackle their problems.

We hope this collaboration will give data scientists a chance to have a real social impact, and voluntary organisations the knowledge to maximize their impact.

We'll be tweeting over the weekend to let you know how the event is going - look out for the hashtag #DCSociety. And watch this space for a report back on how the data scientists coped with the charities' challenges!