Sharing the data magic – an end to boredom, frustration, and loneliness

Katie Eastaugh, CEO, The Cart Shed and Sian Basker, Co CEO, Data Orchard, presenting ‘what’s the big deal about data? and the theory of change’ at the charity’s 2019 summer celebration.

This week we announced the full programme of our Data4Good Conference, which will be held in Birmingham on 14 November. We’ve put together a really ambitious agenda with our partners, packed with 30+ amazing speakers. It’s been a rollercoaster ride – venue visits, planning and late night emails aplenty … and the conference itself is still a month away! So we thought it was worth saying a little about why we set ourselves this challenge in the first place.

We at Data Orchard are passionate about the joy and wonder of data. Naturally we like to hang out with PLUs (People Like Us) who share this passion. And we do lots of that online. But we’ve never really had the chance to meet up, as a community of ‘data4good’ people, to explore and celebrate the amazing influence advances in data and analytics are having on our not-for-profit sector.

We were

  • Bored of everything to do with data being about GDPR, data security or fundraising.

  • Tired of hearing ‘commentators’ say the non-profit sector was being ‘left behind’ (please do point us to any robust evidence comparing like for like).

  • Lonely, having gone to so many analytics conferences and not finding any other non-profits there.

  • Struggling to imagine how applications in enormous private sector/public sector organisations might apply in the non-profit sector, predominantly comprised of small and very small organisations.

  • Frustrated that so many of the incredible innovations and achievements with data in the non-profit sector were not being shared, learned from, or celebrated.

In 2017, in partnership with DataKind UK, we published our first research about data in the non-profit sector. As part of that research we also looked to see what services and support were available and developed a growing list of Data4Good people interested in being part of a community.

Then last year we were delighted to get our first ever grant from Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab University and so began our plan for this conference.

In February this year we assembled a group of organisations we knew to share our vision of a strong, data driven, data empowered non-profit sector. They are all championing the fight against poverty and injustice, campaigning for change and making the world a better place. We weren’t alone anymore!

In May, all the conference partners invited our networks to comment on and contribute to shaping the event. The response was incredible – over 250 people let us know what they thought. Many offered ideas and speakers and made requests for sessions and topics to cover (they also said they were bored witless with GDPR and security so you’ll be pleased to know we dropped that!). As a result, we’ve woven together a delightfully rich and varied programme, which is genuinely designed by the sector, for the sector. In fact, it’s so fascinating we all want to go to everything…which we can’t.

We hope the first Data4Good Conference will inspire, connect and encourage. This is about the sector holding its head high and looking to the future, and we can’t wait.

Note: if there are any wealthy supporters out there who want to sponsor the cost of us getting the event filmed and streamed we’d love to hear from you… If not, well just come and be in the moment. Enjoy the buzz, share your knowledge and/or needs around data, get some useful advice and resources… It’s going to be fun!

A huge thank you to our conference partners: DataKind UK, 360Giving, NCVO, NPC, Probono Economics, RnR Organisation, The Royal Statistical Society, Tech Trust, and The OR Society. Also to our funders: The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS),  and to Charity Bank and Brewin Dolphin via the West Midlands Funders Network.

Data Orchard