The people at the Annie E. Casey Foundation don’t just believe it can; they know it.
If you’re familiar with Datassist at all, you know we are true believers in shared data. We’ve helped a range of nonprofits, governments, and social sector organizations implement shared data to hone and expand their efforts — most recently, with CARE’s financial inclusion efforts in Africa and Asia, and here at home, working with the Ontario government on the Syrian Refugee Measurement Framework.
As data scientists and sociologists, we believe integrated and shared data is the next frontier for social data. We promote it wherever and whenever we can, which is why we’re so excited to talk to you about the outstanding work being done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. They’ve developed some superb examples of how shared data can be so much more powerful than data collected from a single source.
Why Do Nonprofits Resist Shared Data?
We’ve worked with a wide variety of social sector organizations over the years, and in our experience, resistance to implementing shared data solutions can be attributed to three key concerns:
- “We have to protect the privacy of people we work with.”
Respecting and protecting the privacy of populations you serve is critical in the social sector, especially when you are working with vulnerable or marginalized groups.
What many nonprofits may not realize is that shared data and privacy don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Fortunately, there are great resources out there that provide detailed instructions on how to respect and protect privacy while collecting data — even sensitive social identity data.
- “We don’t have the skills/resources/manpower to do that.”
Anyone who’s worked on a nonprofit project knows the resources are never as plentiful as you’d like them to be. Many organizations who recognize the value of shared data hesitate to take the leap because they simply don’t know where to get started.
This too is an issue more easily addressed than it seems at first glance. In fact, we recently ran a webinar on adding public data to your analysis to demonstrate how nonprofits could locate, collect and use shared data in just seven simple steps.
- “We haven’t seen it work in action.”
Obviously, as data specialists, we’ve seen a myriad of successful examples of shared and integrated data. But nonprofits work in different circles, with different resources, and are often hesitant to adopt a strategy they view as only theoretical.
This one can be trickier. Sure, we’ve worked with many nonprofits to help them incorporate shared data into their analysis, but many organizations don’t have time to devote to sharing what they did and how they did it with their peers. This is why we’re so excited about the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s work.
Demonstrating the Power of Shared Data
The team at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is devoted to improving the lives of children, families, and communities, have put together a series of videos and case studies that demonstrate the success of organizations harnessing the power of shared data.
Their introduction to what they call “Integrated Data Systems” clearly removes all barriers to using shared data and offers examples of communities using shared data to improve services and policies.
Of course, major strategy changes aren’t based on a three-minute YouTube video. The Annie E. Casey Foundation also offers research to support the value of shared data. Integrated Data Is Key to “Pay for Success” is a white paper written by a group of experienced researchers, clearly outlining the benefits of data collaboration for policymakers. (This is an especially great resource if you’re sold on shared data, but need support to convince stakeholders in your organization!)
The foundation has also funded an Urban Institute project to expand data sharing to help better understand and address school absences — a fantastic example of the power of data shared between different organizations with a common goal.
Make the Most of Shared Data
At Datassist, we know you’re working hard for meaningful change. So are we. Our goal is to support and assist the world-changers by helping you access and use the data you need.
If you’d like to leverage the power of shared data but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Whether you’re looking for resources on how to collect and use shared data or hands-on help taking the first step, we’re here for you. Get in touch today.