Big Data and The Third Sector: Opportunities and Challenges

Arthur Harvey

The purpose of this short report is threefold: first, to define Big Data; to show how voluntary organisations in the third sector can use Big Data in decision-making processes to improve current services as well as to develop new services, initiatives and programmes; and to enumerate some of the challenges involved with using Big Data in decision-making processes in the third sector.
Big Data, Data Analysis, Education, Healthcare, Third Sector
Key Points
  • Big Data Analytics, based on a comprehensive understanding of people’s behaviour, needs and preferences, can allow third sector organisations to predict new services, initiatives and programmes.
  • Big Data can help third sector organisations improve existing services and operate more efficiently and effectively by providing tailored services.
  • The main challenges posed by the Big Data revolution involve privacy and confidentiality; shortage of talent, resources and data analysts; and cultural challenges.
  • The challenges posed by Big Data presuppose a culture of mutual understanding and trust that will enable public, voluntary and private sectors across the country to work co-operatively towards common objectives that will improve the quality of life of local communities through the use of data analytics.