Beginning life as a small café in Edinburgh in 2012, Social Bite has become an internationally renowned charity, supporting people facing homelessness or facing barriers to employment. In the last decade, it has also established several programmes, such as The Social Bite Village, free food provision, and globally renowned campaigns including Sleep in the Park.
Social Bite’s latest flagship programme, Jobs First, works with some of the UK’s largest employers to break down the barriers faced by those who have been homeless when seeking employment. Since the programme’s inception in 2021, the initiative has seen 17 people gain employment, six new employer partners (including BaxterStory and Nairn’s), and engagement with 57 charity partners.
Jamie Boyd, Growth Programme Manager for Social Bite, supports other line managers and oversees the expansion of new projects, including new Social Bite Villages, and maintenance of ongoing work.
Social Bite’s rapid growth over the past decade has seen the charity gather data from fundraising and support work, but with insufficient ways to analyse or interpret this significant data set, opportunities were sometimes overlooked.
Jamie identified a gap in the organisation’s data management, however, no one internally had the right skill set to oversee or make use of the data. As a result, the charity was at risk of losing possible fundraising opportunities (or investing funds in potentially unsuccessful projects) by making decisions on instinct, rather than hard data.
Tasked with analysing previous fundraising efforts (in a bid to apply learnings to run future fundraising campaigns successfully), Jamie reached out to The Data Lab for support.
He had initially contacted the team to apply for Data Skills for Work Credits. After finding out more about his goals, they suggested he might be a better fit for The Data Lab’s latest professional development course, the Data Leaders Programme. The goal: to develop his skill set, learn how to effectively analyse trends, and gain real value from Social Bite’s data that would allow him to provide insight into the organisation’s plans.
The course gave Jamie headspace to discuss potential solutions for real-world challenges and consider the application of these solutions with fellow leaders.
Throughout the programme, a team of data specialists and practitioners covered a variety of topics, including the importance and execution of a data strategy, data ethics and governance, and recruiting data talent. Through online and in-person sessions, Jamie had the opportunity to become part of a cohort of other leaders who were also on their data journey.
As well as a deeper understanding of data applications, becoming part of this community has given Jamie further confidence in his data knowledge that he can call upon in future.
Project in Action
Jamie said: “The Data Leaders course was essential for me to expand my knowledge and vocabulary, gain the confidence to assess projects, and develop a strong strategy. It made data accessible and easy to digest. I am able to bring new ideas to the Social Bite board and demonstrate the impact they will have. The information I have learned is already proving invaluable as I am conscious of how to clean data and put it towards something actionable.
Combining participants from a wide range of roles and sectors (as well as the fireside chats) with industry leaders was a great way to learn as well as expand my data vocabulary to build my confidence in promoting data internally. Hearing others’ struggles and solutions made the information come to life in real-world situations that we could tackle together. The programme reinforced the accessibility of data and showed me that analysing data doesn’t need to be done by a Data Scientist, it can be incorporated into any role.”
Since completing the 12-month Data Leaders programme, Jamie is leading the implementation of a CRM platform to centralise and gain insight from service users, supporters, donors, and partner information. Such a system will store thousands of details and help to streamline communication, develop relationships, and identify opportunities for improvement.
This project will commence in early 2023, resulting in a viable system set up for the full fundraising team to access. Long-term goals include monitoring and analysing the success of projects (such as Jobs First and The Social Bite Village) to gain insight and apply learnings moving forward to meet fundraising targets to help as many in need as possible.
Could our Data Leaders course help you? Find out more about who it is designed for, timetables, and what’s included: Data Leaders Programme