17 November, 2014

36 hour data dive with charity partners

In February 2013 I attended a conference and saw a presentation by Jake who had set up a charity organisation called Datakind in New York. His premise was that charities have some of the richest information in the world on issues and events that really matter to people. But they can’t afford complex technology and dedicated analysts to make sense of it all.

Companies have lots of technology and capable analysts who could do incredible things with the charity data if allowed. But, though many companies offer corporate sustainability days for staff to use, they are usually spent digging gardens or painting fences. 

What if we could apply our analyst brains rather than brawn to charity problems? What if we could multiply the value of every donation by advising how best to spend it?

So we decided to make it happen. On 9 October 2014, 70 M&S analysts volunteered to help four partner charities: Prince’s Trust, MacMillan Cancer, Winston’s Wish and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Fuelled by fresh coffee and Percy Pigs, the combined analyst / charity teams started tearing through ideas and the pace of work became frantic. When the day finished at 9pm, we had to throw people out as they wanted to continue working. And the next morning the pace only got faster!

After 36 hours our achievements included building a donor database for one charity and identifying a £900,000 funding opportunity for another. Every single one of us was buzzing – and keen to do it all over again next year.

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Pete – Analysis Manager


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