International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.
The past year has taken me for a wild ride along data collection, fundraising, strategic planning, project design and ICT exploration. Working with Non-Profits can be challenging; they’re slow and hampered by decision making processes, they have passion but lack direction, many do before thinking and all are acting with the intention of doing good in the world. I can relate them as much of my background has been devoted to social development, though at the same time, I’ve noticed that the most successful non-profits have made their peace with the business world and instead embraced many business elements into their programming in order to achieve greater efficiency and impact. The most striking element being its sudden reliance on data and ICT strategies to inform, generate buzz and reach out to beneficiaries and stakeholders alike. The merits of both big data and ICT strategies warrant no further discussion; they’re there to stay and the obstacle then becomes, how to stay on top of the latest developments and combine their benefits with the goals of the organization.
I’ve long touted support for data creation and research informed policy making and the tools available to enhance this knowledge are…for lack of a better word, sooooo cooolll!! I’ve been recently turned on to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool to map, but not just any map – a data-informed map. The possiblities are endless! Traditionally, environmental services have used it to map out geographic landscapes, but moving with the times, it’s now possible to put marketing data in to maps; demographic and economic data in to maps. Want to now where the most underserved communities are in the country – turn to GIS; want to find out where people are most travelling to during July 1st weekend, turn to GIS; how about network analysis, art purchasing, bird migration or employment trends – turn to GIS. It’s a phenomenal tool, which allows for inputing of data of any sort really and out pops visible trends that influence how we conduct our business, whatever that business may be. Voila! Ultimate of cool!
On the other hand, ICT tools are just as cool. I’ve been a long time member of Facebook, then LinkedIn and then Twitter. They all became too hard to handle, so I turned to Hootsuite. At my last contract I used Survey Monkey, which complimented Mailchimp and if I really were to integrate the social in to my business, I’d turn to Salesforce to get the best handle on outreach feedback. It’s no secret that ICT is here to stay, but what’s really neat is that you really don’t need an ICT background to be at the top of your game. Teach it yourself or if the classroom is what you need, Ladies Learning Code is a great alternative. Every day, women are taking up larger and larger chunks of the ICT sector, some of which are not even traditionally though of as ‘ICT’. At a time when unemployment is way too high and jobs become extinct, ICT skills are handy and may survive the test of time as the economy changes.
As my own professional development progresses, I’m looking forward to learning more about GIS and ICT tools that can enhance my work, while making an impact in the longer term.