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Alliance Data uses data science to help nonprofit connect more citizens with community resources

At Alliance Data, we’re always looking for ways to give back. So, when a local nonprofit needed a better way to measure their impact, a group of our specialized data analysts jumped at the chance to use their knowledge and skills to help.

Many of our senior leaders are active board members for local nonprofits. Mike Schmidt, Vice President, Marketing Analytics, became a board member for HandsOn Central Ohio more than a year ago as a way to volunteer and use his expertise in marketing and analytics to help the greater good.

HandsOn connects residents in Franklin County with comprehensive and up-to-date information about social, health, and government services. HandsOn is the local provider of the national 2-1-1 service that helps millions of citizens across the country find the resources and assistance they need.

Earlier this year, HandsOn came to Mike and the board with a strategic problem: they didn’t have an efficient way of measuring the difference they were making in the Columbus area. Mike and his team spent months wrangling and analyzing the data HandsOn needed to better gauge what efforts had the most impact.

Mike’s skillful team—Miriam Blackmon, Sherry Stillings, Branden Stultz, Gautam Kini, Kimberly White, and Ross Hashbarger—brought HandsOn’s data to life, presented a clearer picture of what was making the most impact, and uncovered where there were opportunities to help more people. The insights helped HandsOn better understand their operations and participant outcomes, identify untapped opportunities, and acquire more funding and resources in order to help more people in the community.

“Since the inception of our relationship with HandsOn, we’ve been able to provide them with a better understanding of opportunity areas,” Branden said. “For example, I used their incoming phone call volume data and created a basic volume forecasting tool. This will help HandsOn know when to expect increases in call volume by day, or hour if necessary, so that they can optimize their staffing.”

Mike and the team hope this data can help HandsOn’s partners and other 2-1-1 organizations across the country discover new opportunities to reach more citizens in need.

“Before, HandsOn didn’t know if they were always helping the same people or reaching the right communities,” Mike said. “We created a path for HandsOn to also improve their data capture and train them to work with the data they have so they can eventually be self-sufficient.”

The team said they were grateful to use their skills in data analysis to help their community—especially with Alliance Data on their side. “I’ve worked with using our data in a way that meets the needs of our retail partners for some time and, with HandsOn, I was able to use that skill set toward something that is impacting the lives of people in our communities,” said Sherry.

This innovative approach to philanthropy expanded Alliance Data’s ability to support the local community—and opened the door for engaging with other nonprofit organizations in a similar way. It’s clear that by providing more than just financial support and volunteer hours, the Alliance Data team can give back in bigger ways every day.

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