Using expertise provided through the North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub, the Inner North Community Foundation can now harness data to improve, connect and promote social inclusion in Melbourne’s inner north.
For many businesses, data is one of the most underutilised and untapped resources they have. INCF Executive Officer Ben Rodgers understood its potential. He engaged the skills of a student team from La Trobe University to develop an app that would connect donors with local charities and provide regional demographic information.
INCF is an independent philanthropic body that partners with donors and community groups to facilitate grants and provide services that enable people to make a difference to the community.
Ben explained that working with the students was useful to expose new opportunities and frameworks for how INCF can help support the community to thrive.
“Tapping into the knowledge and expertise of the students was really beneficial. They assisted with the creation of the dashboards and showed us how to link data together in an easy and accessible way,” he said.
“In the initial stages it was a challenge because I didn’t understand the potential involved. A key driver was our interest in brokering relationships across the region, and the new app is helping us achieve our goals in this space.”
Available for public use, the Local Charity Data app takes complex information and breaks it up into three simple tabs.
- Understanding our patch: The app identifies grant makers and the number of deductible gift recipient organisations in the area. This allows INCF to recognise and connect private organisations with registered charity groups that need funding.
- Matching donors to local groups: The app helps INCF to broker partnerships and build collaborations in the inner north. Searching by main activity and postcode, it assists donors looking to fund specific projects within a particular charity sector by filtering through the charities in the region. For example, ‘housing activities’ in ‘Moreland’.
- Working with MPs/government: The app gives a snapshot of the inner north and beyond. It provides clear information about the number of charities, their assets and how much they receive from government. This is particularly important for small to medium sized charities that need further funding channels.
The project also presented a significant learning opportunity for data analytics students. James Wallace, Project Lead of The Hub, which is managed by NORTH Link, said that allowing students to work on projects like the Charity Data App helps them to develop their business skills and improve their employability.
“The Hub was established to provide value to local businesses and organisations, helping them to stretch themselves in a new direction. Students appreciate the opportunity to tackle a real-world project and provide business outcomes that make a difference.”
Ben noted that the efficiencies enabled by this technology will make a significant impact on the 893 charities within the region.
“The goal for us was to share knowledge that other people can use. Different stakeholders can use the app in different ways, to the benefit of the whole community.”
Since 2007, INCF has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to 180 community organisations across 30 suburbs in the municipalities of Darebin, Moreland and Yarra. For more information, visit https://www.innernorthfoundation.org.au/.
For more information on student projects through the North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub, click here.