How Large NGOs Are Using Data to Transform Themselves

by Kelly Campbell, Shazeen Virani, and Jessica Lanney

Not many would associate innovation with large, service-oriented nonprofits with decades of history. But in our study of many such organizations—including World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, and Save the Children—we found a handful are innovating by seeking out data, taking it seriously, and then using it to pivot their approach from serving constituents’ needs to tackling the underlying problems that produce them.

Let’s look at how The Salvation Army, a 150-year-old Christian charity that provides a variety of social services across the U.S. and globally, and Habitat for Humanity, which works in 70-plus nations to provide home construction, rehabilitation, and increased access to shelter and financing, gathered data from their sites to make the case for profound change.

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