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Alteryx has an amazing program to support non-profit organizations and help them speed up their data/analytics journey. I had the opportunity to work on my 1st Alteryx For Good (AFG) project with my Toronto Alteryx User Group Leadership team. What an amazing opportunity to make a difference for a non-profit organization – availability of FREE ALTERYX license(s) - one of the best analytics tools available - and receive FREE support from enthusiastic Alteryx aficionados! AFG is not just limited to non-profit organizations; it can benefit academic institutions (schools, universities, academia and students). Find out more about the qualifications here.
There are different challenges when working with a non-profit organization. The mechanics of working together get a different meaning when you and peers are 'not paid' for the project and volunteering. People are excited to collaborate for a noble cause, but everyone is a volunteer and there is no Project Manager (PM)! How do you juggle 'priorities' when the 'work time' is not a 9-5 job? Influencing and Leadership are taken to a whole different level.
Not all non-profits organizations are the same, and no volunteer team is the same either! Most of the non-profits (unless they are big names with money) are working with limited capacities from data and tools perspective. On the data+analytics roadmap, they need help with day-to-day activities, building analytics capabilities within, and determining direction in the future. That's where you bring value to them! I was lucky to work with a non-profit that had a data team to support them.
Where to Start?
Below are some of the recommendations based on my experience:
Find a team who wants to collaborate on an AFG project. 4-5 people and no more
Pick a pseudo-leader from your Alteryx team supporting the project:
Book an initial meeting with the non-profit contact... just a 1-on-1 (1/2 hour recommended)
Provide your brief experience and understand their problem/area of expertise and activities
Select who you want to act as a PM and take care of admin tasks (set up meetings, goals, timelines, meeting notes/minutes, challenges)
Ensure the 'leader' of the non-profit is aligned to receive ideas, and form a high-level data+analytics strategy to help the organization
Communication channels should be open always; ensure the pseudo-leader or the PM are communicating with the non-profit and team. The project can die easily without communication
Decisions: This can be challenging. Everyone wants to deliver and showcase their value to the project. How can you make sure you are not over-complicating the solutions and making wise decisions?
SMART Goals: Ensure the goals you set are clear and achievable:
o Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
o Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
o Achievable (agreed, attainable)
o Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
o Time-bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Decisions need to be made in the interest of your client. Understand that Alteryx may be a new tool for the non-profit. They are good at what they do (and SMEs in their fields) and learning a new tool can be challenging; not everyone is digital-savvy. Example, if a request is received for 'training,' don't just point them to the web and you-tube. Take some time to guide them on the basics of the tool OR ask Alteryx to set up a formal training session.
Involve everyone but be firm and decisive
There might be many ideas generated but decide on what needs to be done; don't leave the decision to someone else. This is where pseudo-leadership helps.
Data Protection: More likely than not, the non-profit will be providing teams with access to Personal Identifiable Information (PII). This data is very critical and needs to be protected.
Remind your new team that Alteryx is a flow through software and not a Database.
Non-profits should have their guidelines/standards on the sharing and protection of their PII data. Ensure you understand those guidelines and adhere to them.
Ideally, I always recommend an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to be signed before the start of the project and the sharing of data. It just makes things formal and ensures everyone understands the privacy impact of data sharing and protection.
It's easier than you think!
Your support is making a difference to lots of lives (children, families, environment, etc)
Keep it simple; do not over-complicate
Do not rush to deliver solutions that will take more time or can't be delivered
Understand your audience, then split tasks in smaller chunks
Establish timelines, get an agreement with the non-profit, then adhere to the timeline
Treat it like a project at work
Did you get a chance to partner with your friends on any Alteryx For Good (AFG) project? Do you want to share some best practices for analytics volunteering, share an experience OR reach out to me for any brain-storming sessions!
If you haven't started, take the leap… A small step, just a little bit of your time can bring a big change in someone's life.
Get the blessings, bring a change, make an impact 😊