We all want to make a social impact, in one way or the other; knowingly or unknowingly, whether it’s for personal satisfaction or to show off. Back in the day, the only ways you would do it is by donating money or time. Well, broadly that hasn’t changed but now we have newer ways to achieve them, primary reason being the increased use of technology and awareness campaigns in the social sector.

NGOs / Non-Profits are generally slow to react to these changes since majority of people who are most equipped to bring about this change choose a six figure salary in the Silicon Valley over the social development sector. With time, more and more organizations are getting exposure and a lot of that has to do with what donors they work with and how good they are in reacting to changes. Also, there is an emerging breed of highly qualified and up to date workforce that is keen to bring about changes in the development sector, the efficient way.

Here are 5 of the top used words / phrases related to social impact that you should know that will eventually give you an edge in the development sector.

1. Open Data / Democratization of Data

Open Data is the idea that data should be freely available for research and analysis without any mechanisms of control like patents, copyrights. This is one of the most, if not the most important idea that has the potential to make a huge impact if organisations and users across the globe are made aware of the benefits. A number of open data initiatives like data.gov.in, data.gov and data.gov.uk already exist. At an international level, the United Nations has an open data website that publishes data from Member States and UN Agencies.

While doing prescriptive or predictive analysis for an NGO we look for open data that can be married to the NGO data to get a complete data set, as a result of which the insights that we get from analytics is way more accurate.

http://opendatahandbook.org/ is a great resource if you want to know more.

These are some of the relevant tweets on #opendata this week.

Social Impact Open Data Tweet


Social Impact Open Data Tweet


Social Impact Open Data Tweet


Social Impact Open Data Tweet

2. Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. In this blog, we are more aligned to what is known as ICT4D or ICT for the Development sector.ICT4D is aimed at bridging the digital divide and aiding economic development by ensuring equitable access to up-to-date communications technologies. The United Nations, through its UN Development Programme, actively promotes ICT4D as a powerful tool for economic and social development around the world. A number of NGOs and donors like the Gates Foundation, Oxfam have dedicated ICT4D teams.

There is both enthusiasm and controversy around ICT4D. For many, it’s pretty clear that that social development can be accelerated by access to information resources and the ability to better communicate different kinds of information. On the contrary, there are arguments that that more urgent needs need to be addressed first, and that fundamental inequities such as opportunities for education, fair working conditions must be corrected before societies can effectively avail themselves of ICTs.

At Xtage, we are working on a solution for the health ministry of a country in Africa where they will now be able to do surveys on mobile tablets thereby saving substantial amount of time and resources spent on error correction and converting the data to digital format. Additionally, the app will work in remote zero network regions and sync to the main repository whenever it get Internet access.

https://ict4dblog.wordpress.com/ is a great blog to follow for news about ICT4D.

Some popular tweets from last week.

Social Impact ICT4D Tweet


Social Impact ICT4D Tweet

3. Monitoring / Real-time analytics

Monitoring is the routine collection of information against a program. The information might be about activities, products or services, users, or about outside factors affecting the organization, program or project. Organizations use this to learn about their own activities and results. Generally this phase falls between the planning and evaluation steps. Adding real time analytics can help in spotting patterns or areas of concern, allowing M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) and Program officers to intervene at a much earlier stage, eventually saving a lot resources that have the potential to be used to achieve a much larger social impact. Predictive analytics also allows the team to compare real-time data to baselines, helping them predict outliers/complications that might need further intervention. Monitoring need not be expensive and complicated. The extent can be adapted to the program needs. Evaluation is performed while the project is being implemented whereas Evaluation studies the outcome of a project.

This link from the MIT website provides a clear understanding of what monitoring is all about – http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/upgrading/issues-tools/tools/monitoring-eval.html

Here’s an interesting tweet from last week –

Social Impact Monitoring Tweet

4. Evidence based decision making (EBDM)

This is part of the larger ideology called Evidence based management where the current and best evidence is used in decision making. Evidence can be internal or external. Internal evidence is composed of knowledge acquired through formal education and training, general experience accumulated from daily practice, and specific experience gained from a project instance. External evidence is accessible information from research. It is the explicit use of valid external evidence (e.g., randomized controlled trials) combined with the prevailing internal evidence that defines a decision as “evidence-based.”

EBDM is common in patient care. It recognizes that clinicians can never be completely current with all conditions, medications, materials or available products, and provides a mechanism for assimilating current research findings into everyday practice in order to provide the best possible care. Thus, scientific evidence is considered by the practitioner in the context of an individual patient’s circumstances when it is appropriate.

Here are couple of amazing tweets on the topic –

Social Impact Evidence Based Decision Making Tweet


Social Impact Evidence Based Decision Making Tweet

5. Visualization

A picture is more than a thousand words and that holds true for the development sector as well. A primary goal of data visualisation is to communicate information clearly and efficiently via statistical graphics, plots and information graphics. Donors are not keen to see long pages of narratives and bland excel charts as a part of the donor report. They want to understand what has been done with their money in the most interactive way possible. Even the program / project leads want to get a routine snapshot on the progress of the program / project so that timely intervention can be done if needed. There are endless ways to showcase data. Pie charts can be superimposed on a map and a line chart added to the top to show a different but relevant datasets. Management Information Systems (MIS) these days is a necessity and a number of NGOs are plugging that data to create wonderful visualisations for the team, board, donors or any other stakeholder.

The follow visualisation shows discrepancies in interview candidates based on race, gender, and ethnicity.

Social Impact Visualisation

Do you need to know all this to make a social impact?


Will knowing these help you make a much larger social impact?


In case you want more information on any of these topics please feel free to write to me on arijit.ganguly@xtagelabs.com.

You think I missed a keyword that ought to be in this list? Please mention it in the comments section.

Cover Image: zeromothersdie.org

5 Top Jargons That Will Help You Make a Big Social Impact