January 12, 2015
Fact: individuals are the biggest contributors to charities. They give about $220 billion in the US alone, but are still behind governments which contribute in the trillions. However, individual donors tend to outpace foundations on a scale of five to one.
If that statistic sounds odd to you, know you’re not alone. After all, that’s precisely why Elizabeth Dreicer – a serial entrepreneur with 20 years in the charitable sector – and B. Kathryn Mead – former COO of the California Endowment – started Posiba together. The duo wants to provide intelligence to all organizations so that they might unlock their full potential.
That doesn’t mean just helping them get larger amounts of money though; that’s only part of the bigger solution. Rather, what Dreicer and Mead have realized these organizations need is access to macro and micro data paired with analytic tools.
“At Posiba, we do what we do because we believe through analytics and intelligence we can help improve the world,” says Dreicer.
A lot of these organizations do great work for their constituents, but to change the world they need a solid foothold on whether or not they’re making an actual impact. That’s where Posiba’s data and analytics come heavily into play.
“There are hard facts that we can bring and try to understand things like obesity, high school graduation rates, and school preparedness,” says Dreicer. “These are knowables, and we can detect where there are differences at scale.”
Go with this example for a moment: the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego might be running an afterschool program, and tracking the high school graduation rates of students involved. They’ll have the local data on San Diego neighborhoods based on their own social experimentation, but what about a larger scale?
What’s interesting here is that they can tap Posiba to get macro data about high school graduation rates in neighborhoods across Los Angeles, or even Philadelphia. That is, they can examine trends across a broad spectrum that’s larger than their own backyard.
“With those faster detections we can tweak, adjust, or lift those things that are working, and downplay that which isn’t,” says Dreicer. “We’re using big data as a tool to leverage human ingenuity: that’s what we can do as people. It’s not an ‘either or’, it’s an ‘and’.”
Posiba pulls all the information from a charity’s own, existing data structures while simultaneously marrying it with macro trends. They also encourage organizations to submit their data about programs they’re hosting and results they’re getting.
Once all of this data, regardless of how it’s captured, is in the Posiba framework it can be reused, shared, and expanded. That helps organizations in local and national levels understand what exactly their goals are and how they might better achieve them; they’re contributing to the science of their work.
“We believe that the marketplace and actors here want to do great things. We want to help them be the best they can,” says Dreicer.
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