Taproot’s U.S. Pro Bono Summit is an opportunity for key stakeholders in the field of corporate pro bono to come together and discuss trends and developments across the sector. It’s also a place where practitioners can collaboratively brainstorm new ideas that will create impact for nonprofit organizations. At the Summit this year in San Francisco, Groupon and Tableau did exactly that, working together to develop a new, shared pro bono program that helps fill a critical need in the nonprofit sector.
Partnering for Impact
In today’s world, using data to inform strategic decision-making is incredibly important. Yet many nonprofits struggle to find the resources, tools, and expertise necessary to leverage data effectively. Additionally, nonprofits are increasingly asked, by funders and by the communities they serve, to measure their impact through data collection and analysis. And yet they often do not have the systems and structures to do so effectively. For these reasons, Groupon and Tableau partnered to implement a series of Hack-A-Thons aimed at providing nonprofit partners with the professional expertise – and software – they need to be able to more clearly and efficiently communicate information through the visual representation of data.
The companies’ new series of Hack-A-Thon events engaged analysts at Groupon who use Tableau software in pro bono projects with Tableau’s grant partners in Chicago, Seattle, Palo Alto, and London. In late June, Groupon volunteers worked over the course of day-long events on tightly scoped nonprofit challenges related to data visualization. Ultimately, this targeted pro bono support enabled nonprofits to harness the power of their data – to discover insights and identify trends over time, to monitor their past performance and find opportunity for improvement, and to figure out how to allocate resources for maximum impact.
In addition to building nonprofit capacity to do data visualization effectively, the events provided meaningful community engagement opportunities for employees. Importantly, the collaborative Hack-A-Thon events offered Groupon analysts a new, done-in-a-day, skills-based opportunity to give back during their company-wide month of service. This helped Groupon to achieve their objectives to bring about a diverse array of ways for employees to get involved and to offer their employees an alternative to more traditional hands-on volunteering initiatives.
Data Visualization Pro Bono in Action
One organization that took part in the Hack-A-Thons was Feeding America®, a national hunger-relief organization that works to feed the country’s hungry through a network of member food banks and to engage the country in the fight to end hunger. Feeding America entered the Chicago Hack-A-Thon with the goal of improving their data visualization processes in order to optimize their use of resources. Two teams of Groupon analysts worked with Feeding America to provide impactful recommendations related to this challenge, allowing them to gain insights as to where the organization should prioritize efforts to support their member food banks, as well as to identify opportunities to connect food banks with appropriate, necessary resources.
“The teams came up with some really good ideas and approaches. It was a fun experience to work with folks of different backgrounds and experiences to share their analytical minds with a data challenge from a non-profit. Each of the groups had something great to offer and I will be able to use elements of each one to bring together a dashboard for our executives and our capability development team.”
– Stephanie Zidek, Sr. Analytics Manager, Feeding America
Moreover, Groupon volunteers were able to use the experience to collaborate with their colleagues, apply their skills in a new and challenging context, and connect to a sense of purpose.
“Building visualizations for Feeding America was a great experience on so many levels. Not only was I able to apply the skills I’ve developed over countless hours to a worthy cause, I also had the opportunity to understand how these skills could address a whole new set of problems, and to see how my coworkers responded with completely different ideas.”
– Mike Chandler, Sr. Strategy Analyst, Groupon
Overall, Groupon and Tableau were able to collaborate to both achieve an important social impact objective and to bring about tangible wins for employees – and they hope to continue this work by running similar Hack-A-Thon programs in the future. Their shared story serves as a powerful testament to the ability for collaboration across the field of corporate pro bono to maximize impact for everyone involved.