The bad news is that we’re a long way from that happening. The good news is that help is on the way.
We’d all like to see big data techniques put to work solving difficult societal issues and the truth is that they’re very capable of doing so. Where they’ve been applied so far — on everything from helping poor mothers in Chicago to monitoring voting rights in Kenya — these new methods for working with, analyzing and processing data have proven rather effective.
The problem is that many of these efforts have been of the volunteer variety. Sometimes, they’re a relatively short-term affairs. A meaningful, sustained effort by nonprofit agencies to optimize their operations with data is likely going to require a serious investment in both people and technology. To butcher the old proverb: Even if they learn to fish with data, nonprofits still need to buy the right gear and get out on the water.
The bad news is that we’re a long way from that happening. The good news…
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