Philanthropy & Leading from the Emerging Future of Work

Innovation and disruption surround us, dramatically influencing dynamics in every workplace. The philanthropic sector is not immune to these changes and can observe and replicate effective practices already being adopted by the private sector.

GrantBook would like to engage in the conversation about such practices through a four blogs series on shifts which will impact the future of work in philanthropy, as well as the rest of the world. Each blog post will focus on one of the four disruptions (the “4 D’s”): Datafication, Digitization, Disintermediation and Demographic.

4D #1. Datafication

New Skills in Philanthropy

GrantBook has been tracking trends in new jobs in private sector companies such as Airbnb, Fitbit, Altschool, Dyson, Netflix, Spotify, Scotiabank and Kabbage and sharing why philanthropic foundations might want to pay attention to these trends in imaging the future of work in their own organizations.  Co-founder of GrantBook, Anil Patel, shared his findings recently with audiences at Community Foundation of Canada,  Belong Conference (Ottawa, May 2017), Calgary Foundation, McConnell Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation.  Job skills which are needed in philanthropy include Agile & Scrum, Statistical analysis, and integration and multiple jobs which include “data”.

What will change for Philanthropy?

Philanthropic organizations will have to rely more on technology, data and analytics to keep pace with the changing world, including adapting their grantmaking and other processes, changing the way they communicate and share knowledge and identifying new opportunities learning organization enabled to reach its highest potential.

Why?  One disruptor is Datafication.  “Datafication is the conversion into bits and bytes of activities, interactions and relationships between entities participating in the world of work, making it easier to use analytics to understand workflow and work dynamics”.1

This means that all staff working in philanthropic foundations are leaving a digital footprint wherever the go, both on the inside and outside the foundation.  Foundation owned assets (computers, devices, etc.) are continuously capturing data of all kinds.  Without a data strategy, this data collection may be random and not very controlled, making it clear that just having all of this data is not enough. Foundations must be able to make sense of the data they are collecting.

Evolution of Data

Data analytics has evolved from just obtaining information on organizational activities for better decision making to the advent of big data in the mid-2000’s. Data sets grew exponentially with data generated by machines and devices as well as mass amounts created by individuals via emails, surveys, video, audio, social media, etc.

GrantBook has observed, that many philanthropic foundations in North America are still primarily collecting data on their internal activities (data for action) such as financial data, program data and are only beginning to embark on effective collection of data for impact.  The fundamental question is, “What data can you collect about the problems you are trying to solve?”

Now we find ourselves in the era of Analytics 3.0, when every transaction on any device or machine leaves a digital footprint.  Organizations can analyze these patterns and provide intelligent customer offerings.  For philanthropy, the opportunity exists to collect and aggregate data for higher potential fundraising, grantmaking and impact.

What can philanthropists do?

Be proactive in leading your organization from the emerging future of work.

Stay informed: The first step is to gain awareness and, as an organization, take advantage of datafication. This includes acquiring skills through thought leadership and publications, conferences and event venues where data and analytics is at the center. The goal is to understand the language of the field and reflect on the impact it will have on your internal and external stakeholders. Ultimately this will enable you to identify the opportunities data and analytics can provide to inform decisions, detect patterns, find the path that can enable a lasting impact, in line with the strategic mandate of your organization.

Start small and iterate

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of technology and solutions available on the market. Which one do you choose? Which one will provide the best solution? How can you implement it if you don’t have internal skills? Instead spend quality time on formulating the business or impact question you want to address and be very clear on what will you do, if you had the answer to that question. Then think about the types of data that would be necessary to answer that question. Most of the time you will not need anything more sophisticated than a spreadsheet tool to do that type of analysis. The more questions you attempt to answer, the easier it will become to understand the technology needs. For example, if data quality is poor, then you will need data cleansing and data quality management capabilities, if you have a large body of data you will need to consider big data or scalable solutions, if you want to enable self-service access to data on ongoing basis, you will need to consider visualization solutions and so on.

Partner to Pilot

A faster path to embracing datafication is to partner with a multitude of solution providers who offer both consulting and analytics services. They would typically use a structured consultative approach to clarify the question and determine the data and analysis necessary to answer it. Such partnerships help you gain fast successes and learn through the process, then determine if such capabilities need to be established internally or ongoing partnership can be a more cost effective and efficient solution.

More information can be found here (data management) and here (analytics).

In the near future, you will reconfigure your work environment, have a digital and data strategy, understand a path to high potential impact, and know which different skills and experiences you can bring into your organization to manage your work in a digital and data-enabled way.

Learn more at the experiential workshop, “Lead from the Emerging Future of Work”. December 6, 2017, New York City.  Register at Eventbrite:  This workshop is co-facilitated by, Stela Lupushor, and GrantBook Inc., Michelle N. Moore.

1. ”Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of the Internet at Work” Chapter 21, The Future of Work, Stela Lupushor and Alex Fradera

Michelle Moore

Board Member

Strategy, Transformation, Process Optimization

Transformation work is my passion. I have helped former Soviet enterprises transition to a market economy, consulted companies on innovation performance, optimized business processes and implemented new technologies. Today, authentic transformation for lasting positive impact is faster and more accessible to all individuals, organizations and systems. Tapping into the collective wisdom of our teams, through high quality attention & intention, presencing, and embodiment is the new source for insight and innovation.