Using Data to Help Non-Profits Become More Effective
Although she doesn’t consider herself a “tech person,” Meg Thomas Crosby ’88 spent five years working in human resources at one of the biggest tech companies in the world—Google. So while she knows a lot about how people make an organization effective, she also knows that technology plays a vital role in making organizations more efficient.
She returned to Memphis in 2006, and then co-founded PeopleCap Advisors in 2011, which consults with for-profit companies and non-profit organizations about growth and transition. She is actively involved in the boards of several local companies and organizations, including Rhodes College, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the new Crosstown High School, Big Green (formerly The Kitchen Community), and several others.
Crosby said one of the biggest challenges in non-profits and non-governmental organizations is the influence of technology. “Organizations are starting to use technology to help measure outcomes, whereas before, everything was anecdotal. Our challenges in Memphis are so great that we need to be able to quantify them, because we need to be able to move the needle in a very significant way.”
She believes that there will always be relational giving, when people give to support one another. But by giving more strategically, “we can amplify the change and make substantial progress.” Additionally, she believes that as today’s millennials start to become a larger percentage of the donor base, they will ask for numbers, because they are accustomed to looking at evidence and outcomes. Another trend she sees is collaborative giving, where people will pool their resources to target a specific area to really make a difference.
The challenge, she admitted, is that technology is always a budget issue for most non-profits; donations often go toward high-visibility programs or capital campaigns. She said that the Community Foundation has been successful in funding nonprofit capacity building for upgrades to technology or other needs, so that organizations can run more efficiently.
One of the boards Crosby sits on is Slingshot Memphis. This organization is working to “bring data and analytics to our non-profits to help them understand how they are making an impact and where to allocate their resources to have a greater impact. We also highlight and promote organizations that have proven they are having an impact to help drive dollars to those organizations.”
Crosby said Slingshot is fashioned after the Robin Hood Foundation that Paul Tudor Jones, a native Memphian, founded in New York. “He was a pioneer in this area. He was saying, ‘We give all this money to non-profits, but we don’t put them through the same rigor we do on the investment side.’ If we begin to use data and analytics and to fund programs that actually work, can we really fund the change and create the change that we need to see?”To read the full story from the April 2018 edition of the Hutchison School Magazine, click here.