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Top 3 Ways that data and predictive analytics is transforming our sector

Do you hear the words data, machine learning and artificial intelligence and ask yourself what it means and how will it benefit society? Business leaders, futurists and Governments readily acknowledge we are now living in the fourth industrial revolution. Today’s creations will bring massive changes in how we work, communicate and live.

Robots, driverless vehicles, hyper personalised products and experiences, digitally connected “smart” cities will be mainstream within the decade. Fuelled by data, today’s most highly valuable asset, these are just some of the innovations that will shape human life.

The question we must ask as philanthropists and leaders in the social sector is how can data be a massive force for good – and how can we participate?

Data can fulfil different roles in the economy, in society and for individuals. Right now many of us have a very simplistic view of what is possible and what is occurring. Yet, we are beginning to understand how our data is used as consumers.

We see it online expressed through our ‘echo chamber’ when the websites we’ve visited and the products we’ve bought turn up in our google searches or Facebook feeds. This is called retargeting. Digital marketers are using this and many other data-driven techniques to predict your preferences, next purchases and desire for an improved experience. Revenues are soaring for start ups and traditional businesses who are getting it right.

In the social sector, the nature of evidence-based, data driven decision making takes a different form from the commercial sector, although it is just as important. Doing more with less, creating efficiencies, growing revenues and getting better outcomes requires a smarter approach. That’s what data, machine learning and predictive analytics offers social sector organisations.

The bringing together of complex data sets gives sector leaders forecasting and analytical capabilities to make smarter fundraising and service delivery decisions. Predictive analytics can change future outcomes for clients because machine learning identifies patterns faster than people can, giving us greater intelligence to intervene and improves outcomes, ultimately improving lives.

These are the 3 ways data and predictive analytics will transform our sector in 2019:

1. Predictive tools for smarter fundraising and better client outcomes in healthcare and social services:

Early adopting not for profits and social purpose businesses will work with public data, donor behaviour data and client data to predict and improve client outcomes, particularly in healthcare and education for people in low income communities. Rather than wait for program evaluators to measure impact, using data in the moment will allow continuous improvements. New tools integrated with case management systems will improve service experience for vulnerable clients and foster empathy through insight. Fundraisers will more readily acquire, retain and engage with donors to secure vital revenue.

2. Data as a Service:

The ability to solve social problems collaboratively using data and predictive analytics will grow rapidly. Next generation Data as a Service platforms such as ourdata.community will make foundational data resources accessible for people without technical skills to easily find, share and use data so they can solve social problems together. Organisations embracing the use of data and predictive analytics will get better outcomes and identify new innovations in service delivery. Funders will prefer and seek service providers with sound evidence bases and strategies for data-driven continual improvement. Community change agents like the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project in Victoria and Collective ed in Tasmania are already using data to drive collaboration and shared decision making to improve rates of year 12 completion and transition to meaningful pathways. Community data platforms will enable local policy development by community organisations and stakeholders.

3. Responsible Data Governance:

Social innovators, philanthropists and impact investors will take an active role to promote responsible use of client data when applying predictive analytics, resulting in positive social and community change. Seer Data & Analytics is working with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) to implement an ethical framework for data governance, providing clients with guarantees for data sovereignty, security and ownership. This Responsible Data Governance framework will be available to the NFP sector as a tool others can use to ensure the use of data is aligned with community expectation and organisational mission.

As more organisations work with data and analytics to improve social outcomes, the sector will adopt this toolset as a key strategy to inform board and executive decision making as well as on the ground, continuous improvement.

The Xfactor Collective is a community of pre-vetted specialist consultants who help social change makers achieve their social mission. We have a diverse range of specialists across 300+ areas of specialisation.  To find out more about working with us, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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