Mental health

How do you quantify social impact?

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Written by: Liz Hampton, Corporate Citizenship Manager

Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for young people seeking help.

Youthline Auckland Cafe At 10 am on a Friday morning, the café at Youthline Auckland is busy. The café serves an important role in creating a personable face to greet people arriving at the busy community centre. Youthline aspires to be a friendly community hub, not just a place to go to when you are at your wits end.

Youthline is New Zealand’s most recognised youth support organisation, and provides a range of services from crisis response to youth leadership development. The café is one of three small social enterprises providing barista training, customer service and support, and business experience for young people.

Many young people in New Zealand have varied and challenging backgrounds, such as troubled experiences at school, poor family situations, addiction or mental health issues. To its shame, New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world (OECD reports), and is ranked 83 in the world for Youth Health and Wellbeing by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Youthline is very clear about what it can do to make a difference. They are focused on ensuring that all the young people they work with get the help they need, so they can realise their potential. Youth is a critical phase in everyone’s life, and a time when identities are shaped and destinies are forged. Young people thrive when they actively participate in society. Youthline works to develop young people so they can take an active leadership role within their communities.

As a non-profit organisation, Youthline requires ongoing funding to achieve its mission – and major funders are increasingly requiring quantified evidence of social impact. It’s here that data and analytics can help – and where IBM is supporting Youthline in achieving its mission. With the help of an IBM Corporate Citizenship impact grant, ‘Leading with Data’, Youthline is gaining insights and transforming its data management processes.

78% of leaders from surveyed nonprofits with advanced capabilities reported higher effectiveness in performing their missions

A recent IBM Business Value report, ‘Leap before you Lag’, says non-profit organisations that are more advanced in data and analytics practices are more effective in driving performance against their mission and in achieving internal efficiencies.

74% of surveyed nonprofit leaders cited budget as one of their top three primary barriers to advance analytic capabilities

Over four weeks, IBM consultants worked with the Youthline Leadership team to better understand Youthline’s capabilities and opportunities when it comes to data and analytics. This included a self-evaluation, analysis of the strategic plan, identification of activities that can drive impact through data usage, better ways to manage and collect data, and considerations for metrics to track improvement and results.

67% of surveyed nonprofit leaders said they are in the preliminary stages of the analytics journey

Youthline CEO, Stephen Bell, says, “…on any change journey, we need to take everyone along with us, from the Board to the front line staff. I must confess, I was a bit nervous that the Leading with Data project could complicate the process and create an unobtainable target. However, I am delighted to say that I was wrong, and I am extremely grateful for the outcomes achieved through the workshops.”

The report, ‘Leap before you Lag’, found that non-profits identify budget as the biggest barrier to adopting analytics, although the desire to become data-driven is not new. Data has risen in importance as non-profits strive to move beyond measuring programme outputs and towards demonstrating broader social impact. The report says that organisations can begin to leapfrog ahead by capitalising on advances in technology; upskilling staff; rationalising the use of talent; aligning funders to support data-driven practices, and engaging in collaborative ecosystems.

Nonprofits with deeper data capabilities see stronger impact, transparency and decisions

Stephen Bell adds: “The IBM project has given us an actionable roadmap to help us become more data-driven as an organisation. The process enabled Youthline’s team to be fully involved, and with IBM support, to collectively agree how we can move forward, and deepen our understanding of why it’s so important to become data-driven.”

The latest UNICEF report shows New Zealand languishing at the bottom of the developed world in relation to the health and welfare of our children and youth. Harnessing data and technology will be one way to support those organisations like Youthline who are helping to turn those statistics around.

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai e iwi

With your basket and my basket the people will live






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