Leveraging Data and Technology for Healthy, Equitable and Sustainable Communities

Increasing numbers of change agents are exploring and applying new tools and technologies for data, mapping and analysis that can inform decision-making, build engagement and track impact.  Kaiser Permanente (KP), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and our other partners saw a strategic opportunity for funders to learn about what this means for the health and social sectors in a deliberate way. We engaged Network Impact to conduct research to highlight opportunities for funders to advance their organizational goals while creating shared value and leveraging current investments in data and technology. 

Our hope is that this research will advance a discussion within the health and social sectors to prioritize support for a healthy data ecosystem that will allow change agents from large private foundations to community based organizations to take advantage of innovations in the use of data and technology to increase the impact of their work.

Download the summary of findings

Preview of Key Findings

Three overarching priorities emerged for bringing the social sector up to speed with other sectors that are more effectively leveraging data and technology in their work:

  1. Invest in a Data Ecosystem that Advances the Goals of the Social Sector
  2. Advance Equity and Social Justice 
  3. Build a Data-Informed Culture 

The research summary also highlights critical areas of investment as well as innovative projects that are helping funders and organizations better understand:

  • the conditions on the ground in the communities they serve,
  • how data can help point to which interventions will have the most impact,
  • how data can surface unexpected correlations that spark innovative solutions, and
  • how data can guide continuous improvement over time.

We started this research focusing on the technology tools being used and developed for social and health change agents. We were surprised by how much agreement there was across the field that the tools were just a small piece of the puzzle. The biggest emphasis was on how important it was for philanthropy to help fuel sector-wide change and capacity building.  Therefore, we widened our inquiry to look at the larger ecosystem of data and technology to advance efforts to support healthy, equitable and sustainable communities.

Actions You Can Take Now:

  1. Start conversations internally – The Summary of Findings includes guiding questions developed for talking to executives and program staff and examples of successful project.
  2. Approach data questions from a field perspective (as well as from your own organization) - The Summary of Findings includes a Tool Development Checklist for questions to consider about new tools and how data collected could be made accessible to others.
  3. Participate in the growing field level discussion - Share examples of successes and challenges and look for opportunities to coordinate and collaborate.  You can sign up to be updated about further discussion and information related to leveraging data and technology in the social sector at: http://www.networkimpact.org/leveragingtech/ 

About the author(s)

Vice President for
Information Systems and Technology
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Vice President,
Total Health Partnerships
Kaiser Permanente