Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Time for data-driven social impact: data.org


Accelerate Aspirations: Moving Together to Achieve System Change, a comprehensive report on the key trends and tensions in the emerging field of data for social impact, was released today by data.org (DSI).

Data has the potential to generate high-impact, low-cost interventions that promote resilience in the face of rising inequality, public health crises, widespread threats to democracy, and climate change. The Accelerate report recognizes this incredible potential while also raising urgent questions about the purpose and practice of this nascent field, as well as the people who will be needed to keep it all moving.

“We have the power to build—and fund—a data-driven social impact sector that drives affordable and innovative ways of addressing the multitude of challenges we face,” said Dr. Danil Mikhailovexecutive director of data.org.

He went on to add, “But we must do the hard work to change how we as individuals, organizations, funders, and ecosystems operate. At the heart of this report is a focus on collaboration. Together, we must be willing to take risks, align incentives, and partner differently to drive sustainable and systemic change.”

Through interviews, quantitative findings from a data maturity assessment, and a comprehensive literature review, the Accelerate report surveys the current state of data for social impact, culminating in critical next steps to advance the field.

The field of data for social impact is at a fork in the road. According to the results of data.org's Data Maturity Assessment, 90% of respondents say their organization is committed to investing in data tools, training, and staff. However, most organisations lack the infrastructure, capacity, and long-term funding to achieve their goals. As a result, we must make a decision. Business as usual can be maintained by funding and implementing under-resourced and siloed data projects that produce incremental results. We can also think and act boldly.
  1. Improving data strategies through common governance and tools, data sharing, aligned incentives, and, most importantly, cross-sector coordination, according to the Accelerate report.
  2. Creating a more diverse and interdisciplinary workforce of purpose-driven data practitioners capable of driving change locally.
  3. To build sustainable and interoperable solutions, stronger funding models with longer time horizons, more flexible structures, and better coordination are being developed.
The Accelerate report builds on data.org's 2022 Workforce Wanted: Data Talent for Social Impact report, which found 3.5 million job opportunities in the data for social impact field in developing countries alone over the next decade. As a result, data.org is working to train one million purpose-driven data practitioners over the next ten years through their Capacity Accelerator Network of knowledge hubs worldwide, from the United States to India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“A more diverse, global workforce with interdisciplinary perspectives can provide a foundation for data for social impact work that is both effective and just,” said Dr. Uyi Stewart, chief data and technology officer at data.org.

“Because as cross-sector work gains traction, we need data practitioners that not only understand and can translate, but actually come from marginalized communities and geographies inclusive of low- and middle-income countries to develop these critical data ecosystems.”

Since its launch three years ago at the World Economic Forum by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, data.org has quickly become a connector and coordinator—a platform for partnerships delivering capacity-building programs and broadening access to tools, resources, and knowledge for social impact organizations around the world.