Big Data and Philanthropy

Big Data and Philanthropy

On new technologies and their role in supporting non-profit organisations 

IBM is one of the world’s largest suppliers of hardware, software, IT, and consulting services. Since its foundation in 1911, CSR has been an integral part of the company’s activity. IBM’s motto “THINK” applies to both its business approach and the way it solves the problems of communities where its staff live and work. The company is convinced women possess enormous potential for scientific breakthroughs and their commitment and creativity are key to great success in modern hi-tech business. Thus, IBM pays significant attention to the professional and personal empowerment of its female members. 

Irina Efremova-Garth, Head of Corporate Citizenship for IBM Russia/CIS, told us more on the matter.  

According to the expert, today we not only see the growth in income and education level, but also in women’s influence in philanthropy. Approaches within private practice really involve gender-based differences. A recent study, conducted by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana University, proves the same. 


Gender aspect plays a less important role in CSR, than in private charity. Here, the main values are rather those promoted by the company and shared by its staff and board. 

As early as in the first half of the 20th century, IBM took several steps towards gender equality. 

Therefore, in 1934, the company provided engineering training for women. The year after, IBM introduced the equal opportunity policy, which stated: “Men and women…will have the same responsibilities and the same opportunities for advancement.” In 1943, Ruth Leach became the company’s first female vice president. 


The practice of supporting education for girls and motivating them to study exact sciences has always been an integral part of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship. 

Speaking about philanthropy, the expert highlighted one of today’s challenges is the necessity of making the full use of enormous potential of new technologies. It is essential because it will provide maximum positive social effect for the programmes of charitable organisations. 

“There is a stereotype that it is harder for women. However, experience has shown women can master anything they need to reach the goal,” believes Irina Efremova-Garth. 


One of the technologies deserving closest attention of Russian and international philanthropy is big data. Despite the fact, decision-making based on data is not new to the sphere, stakeholders’ demand for unbiased information about achieving the pronounced social effect is and will be growing. “With an increase of that demand, charitable organisations’ necessity to exceed the limits of measuring the results of standalone social programmes and speak of influence in a competent, demonstrative, and justified manner, will scale up,” commented the expert. 

Besides, Ms. Efremova-Garth is sure, organisations will as well have to learn to use data to make projections and plan their activity. 

In 2017, the results of a research conducted by IBM showed that only about 15% of all non-profit organisations use prescriptive analytics in their activity. Such kind of analytics provides an opportunity of prompt changing of programmes, as well as predicting the probability of achieving the results planned based on experience and numerous external factors of actualising the programme. 

Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Boykov