Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Pro Bono OR Case Study- Care4All Performance Management Dashboard

Care4All are an established charity who provide social care support and services for hundreds of vulnerable people in North East Lincolnshire and the surrounding area. The charity provides a diverse range of services and support whilst focusing on creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. With 90 paid staff and 8 volunteers, the charity is constantly seeking to raise it's profile since it was established in 2007. 

Charitable objects include: 
-the relief of those in need, by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantages.
-the relief of unemployment for the benefit of the public in such ways as may be though fit, including assistance to find employment. 

Care4All had been through a period of significant change and need to make sense of the performance data the collect. there are a few key questions whic needed to be considered for this project:
  • -          What questions do the Care4all management board want to answer or metrics do they             need to monitor on organisational performance?
  • -          Does the data currently collected allow these questions to be answered? If not, what data         needs to be collected to answer relevant questions?
  • -          Does data need to be structured or collected differently?
  • -          How can data be routinely analysed?
  • -          How can the analysis be presented in a meaningful and powerful way?
After an initial meeting with the Chief Executive, the Pro Bono volunteer sought to support the charity by presenting meaningful organisational performance management information. After creating a performance management process the organisation had scope to present management reports using infographics. 

Another successful project, with big thanks to our volunteer. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Starting a charity? ...Keep it simple

The early years journey of a charity can be a fist-shaking experience, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the endless support that organisations can provide NFPs today. Many start-ups have the same questions, and although there’s no blanket solution, often you find that keeping it simple is a start. The following three steps are a guide to the very early years, after that, there’s Pro Bono OR! Come see for yourself….

Define your aims and objectives
Although crowd-funding is more popular than ever, gone are the days that charitable objectives are simply a monetary figure. Charitable engagement has grown from the face-to-face fundraising that we all swerve to avoid in the high street, to creating punishable challenges like trekking across Africa in your undies with nothing but a pencil and a rubber duck! If we expect the community to hop on board with our out-of-the-box events then we need to make sure our purpose is clear. Aims and objectives don’t just have to be facts and figures, let us know the real reason you’re dedicating all of your time for this particular charity, or this particular cause and event. Making your aims personal and precise is the best way to make digital communication induce empathy. Making your aims clear is the best way to retain the attention of your audience.  
If you’re early on in the start-up journey then go ahead and be honest with your every intention. Let me know that the first four months will be spent refining a fundraising strategy, or that the six months after that will be working towards effectively measuring impact. The sooner you’re up front, the sooner the community can either signpost you all my known contacts, or they hop off the train because you’re not heading for a destination that they can see themselves ending up at.
So what if you have all of the motivation and you know qualitatively how you want to achieve, but you can’t quite seem to create a visual for others to see? If that’s the case then it’s time to cut that picture up, back into the smaller pieces you originally used to make it. We do this by making SMART targets: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely; and I cannot stress the ‘realistic’ enough. A large amount of charities lose funding, discounts and corporate backing because they fail to meet their targets within the first 3 years of set up. You’re better off meeting lower targets that failing to over-achieve. Ego should be removed when setting aims and objectives! 

Be a social media guru
Lesson number one: learn to separate professional and personal social media. More importantly, look away once in a while, before it consumes you. Social media will be the death of us all. I’m speaking from experience. During my time living in Australia, I was walking in the CBD on weekday lunch break (something we in the UK aren’t partial to, because we’re ‘too busy’) and as I was approaching a crossroad, stupidity unfolded right before me. A woman was walking whilst peering down at her phone, she considered herself too busy to even look before crossing the road. Of course that didn’t give the bus coming up behind her much time to stop, so I ran into the road and pulled her back to the pavement. Dignity isn’t a word I use often and this occasion was no exception. Not only did I get clipped by the bus, but I managed to trip up the curb and was used as a landing pad for the nice corporate lady in a suit. The smoothie that was in her hand was now providing new colours on my top. The fact that I dislocated my shoulder saving that woman, only to have an absence of thanks, is not the point. The reason that woman risked her life was because reading her social media notifications was more important that the 12 tonne bus heading her way. It’s possible to be SMART with your social media use to, it’s just a case of defining the aims of your use:
  • -                 Aim to build a network – There’s no better phrase than ‘I know a guy.’
  • -      Increase your reach by intentionally reaching out to people you think might be interested; but don’t be afraid of not hearing back from a stranger who hasn’t yet earnt your respect!
  • -          Use meta-tags – The internet is a great invention that everyone uses but no one understands. Meta-tags provide specific information about a page including content description, author info and key words or phrases. Use this to extend your reach to people who may not have necessarily taken interest at first glance.
  • -          Be authentic, not robotic – Don’t post information you think I want to hear. Post information you want me to hear, then tell me why it’s important to you.
  • -          Use the internet site appropriately – We all shake our fists at the 140 character capacity that twitter allows, so instead of trying to Shakespeare your post up, simply signpost. Signpost to your website, to your blog, to your stats and figures, or to your gallery that shows just how great the people you work with are. Be smart with social media platforms.
 Elaborate on your call to action
Call to action can be used as both motivation for a message receiver, as well as a marketing term to show next steps to an audience. It’s all very well using social media to signpost me to your website but don’t waste it by not finishing my journey for me. Now that I am on your website I want to know what’s next. I can see what you hope to achieve and when you want to achieve it by, but now I want to know how you intend to do it. More importantly, where do I come into this? A call to action tells the customer what you want them to do. The actions are simple:
-fill out a form
-re-post a blog
-attend an event
-register for info
-fill in a survey
-buy something
-find out more…

A call to action should be simple, clear and interactive. You may be a small charity, but now suddenly your audience understand both your wants and your needs. Isn’t that what we all want in life?

For more info on how Pro Bono can help with: 
  • Strategic planning/review
  • Impact measurement
  • Process improvement
  • Data analysis
  • Business planning
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Options appraisal
  • Decision making
and more! Please get in touch with

Friday, 28 July 2017

Looking for pro bono volunteers to work with Rainbow Trust Childrens Charity

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity

Project summary:

To evaluate the impact of special sibling support for brothers and sisters of children who are life-threatened or terminally ill. The volunteer will help shape and define the remit of the evaluation
The volunteer will work with the Manchester Sibling Support Worker and National Manager to answer the questions above and produce a report to measure the impact of this 5 year project. This evaluation will be submitted to the Big Lottery Fund as part of a final grant report in March 2018.
Time commitment: 10-15 Days over the duration i.e. 2 days a month approximately
Location: Manchester (OL8 4QQ) /Leatherhead Surrey (KT22)

Please read projectscope and if you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return along with your CV to by Friday 11th August.

Information about the organisation:

Charitable objectives:
OUR VISION:  One day all terminally ill children and their families will have access to a Rainbow Trust Carer.
MISSION:  Rainbow Trust provides emotional and practical support for families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.
OUR USP: We offer the whole family individually tailored, high quality support for as long as they need it.

Main activities of the organisation
Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity supports families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. For these families, life is unthinkably tough. Their lives are shattered into a million pieces as they struggle to cope with the possibility that their child might die.
Rainbow Trust Family support workers provide individually tailored support to help families navigate through this period of great stress and uncertainty.   Each family is designated their own Family Support Worker who provides emotional support to help them face each day, as  well as helping with the practicalities of taking care of the sick child and siblings, helping with house work and transporting families to hospital.   We provide help however and whenever a family needs it most.
Some families are supported a few times each week, some call us as and when they feel in need, and everything in between. From supporting in the home, at hospital when children receive treatment, to being there for the whole family if a child dies.

For more info about Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity please visit:
For further information about the Pro Bono scheme please visit:

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Updated useful software list

Simply a signpost to free software, to cater for your every need...

The list is ever-evolving and we would welcome further contributions or to hear about any tools or software you have successfully used in the past. Ideally the software should be free to use. Please email any suggestions to

A big thank you to those who have recently sent in suggestions and made important contributions to the list.
Tool Link Category
Apache OFBiz supply chain management
Apache Zeppelin Data visualisation
ArangoDB Graph Database
ArcGIS Geospatial / Mapping software
Awesome R Various: Data manipulation; Database management; Graphical displays; Machine learning; Bayesian…
Bizagi Simulation
Blender 3D Modeling and animation
Cassandra Database
ChartsBin Geospatial / Mapping software
CMPL Optimisation
CODAP Data visualisation
D3 Data visualisation
Data Wrapper Data visualisation
DREAM Simulation
Dygraphs Data visualisation
Elements Process Mapping
Exhibit Data visualisation
Flare Data visualisation
Free MS Windows images Operating System
GDAL Geospatial / Mapping software
Gephi Data visualisation
GLPK Optimisation
GNU Octave Programming language
GRASS Geospatial / Mapping software
Gretl Econometrics / Time-Series Analysis
Insight Maker Simulation
Interactive Data Visualizations for the Web Data visualisation
Programming environment
Java Programming language
jORLib Optimisation
Kibana Data visualisation
Leaflet Data visualisation
LibreOffice Calc Spreadsheet analysis
ManPy Simulation
Mathics Computer Algebra System
MongoDB Database
Neo4J Graph Database
NetLogo Agent-based simulation
Odoo supply chain management
Open Door Logistics Studio routing & scheduling
Open Refine Data Cleansing
OpenBoxes supply chain management
OpenSolver Optimisation
Openstreetmap Geospatial / Mapping software
Pandas Statistical analysis
PostGis Database (spatial)
PostGres Database
Prefuse Data visualisation
PSPP Statistical analysis
PULP Optimisation
Pyomo Optimisation
PyPy Programming language
Python Programming language
QGIS Geospatial / Mapping software
QuickCode Programming language
R Statistical analysis
Raw Data visualisation
Rstudio Statistical analysis
Ruby Programming language
Ruby on Rails App Builder
Sage Computer Algebra System
SQLlite Database
SimPy Simulation
SymPy Computer Algebra System
TileMill Geospatial / Mapping software
Visualise Free Data visualisation
Vizable Data visualisation
Watchmaker Framework Optimisation 
Xmind Mind mapping
yWorks Graph/Diagram Drawing

Monday, 24 July 2017

Pro Bono OR volunteers required for new project with The OR Society

The OR Society

Project summary:
The volunteer is required to suggest a risk model of membership renewal. Using data from the existing membership database, the results of previous studies and discussions with staff and members, the main factors of risk may be identified. The output of the study could include:
  • -         A list of likely risk factors, and the different personas subject to these risks
  • -         Suggestions for extra data to be included on the membership database
  • -         Suggestions on how each risk can be mitigated
  • -         Some quantification of the size of the risk due to the various factors
  • -       Possibly a flow model that could be used to investigate the most effective way of reducing drop-out
  • -    Recommendations for a contact strategy to improve renewal. This should account for different risk groups, their preferences and likely success rates, costs and feasibility.

Time commitment: approx. 10-14 days

Location: London or Birmingham for 2-3 initial meetings, followed by working remotely.

Please read projectscope and if you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return along with your CV to by Monday 7th August.

Information about the organisation:

Charitable objectives:
The charitable purposes of the OR Society include the advancement of knowledge and interest in OR, as well as the advancement of education in OR.

Main activities of the organisation
ORS activities include (but not limited to): conferences and events, training courses, journals, publications and website, pro bono OR, OR in Schools, membership activity. The OR Society aims to have a vibrant and active membership drawn from diverse areas; and be well-run, provide excellent services and be adequately and sustainably resourced.

For further information about the scheme please visit: