For nonprofits and social enterprises without strong IT capacities:
Affordable, simple tools to collect data, communicate with clients, and measure impact.
Apps for smart phones and tablets that allow for easy data collection. No more paper surveys and data entry.
Platforms to communicate with your clients and beneficiaries through SMS. No more phone calls, fewer physical visits.
Tools to compile and communicate events and reports through an online map.
Remote, GPS-enabled sensors to measure use of cookstoves, water filters and other devices.
Last updated: 3/30/2015
Kopernik has updated this catalogue with introduction of new tools, addition of new features to existing tools, and refinement of Kopernik's assessment methodology.
What if nonprofits and social enterprises had an affordable way to report real-time, large-scale data on their social impact?
This question inspired us to create this catalogue.
Nonprofits and social enterprises are under pressure to measure their performance and results. Many low-cost, information communication technology (ICT) -based tools already exist to help collect data on a large-scale, real-time basis. Yet, while both supply and demand for ICT-based tools exist, nonprofits and social enterprises often fail to take advantage of them.
The issue is access. There isn’t a central marketplace at which organizations can access ICT-based tools and come to understand their pros and cons as well as their applications to specific needs.
The other issue is technical language. ‘Free and open source’ doesn’t mean no-cost, turn-key solutions ready for immediate deployment. Rather, it means that people with specific skills, such as IT programmers, can use open source tools to build something useful for organizations. However, most nonprofits and social enterprises do not have in-house programmers to help use such tools.
In addition to addressing these gaps, this catalogue goes a step further by providing recommendations that assist users make decisions in some categories of tools (i.e. digital data collection apps and SMS communication platforms). Beyond these targeted recommendations, the catalogue displays all relevant research findings so that users can draw your own comparisons.
We hope you find this catalogue useful and relevant. As new tools are developed and introduced to this field of “impact tracker technologies,” we will update this online version.
Desk research, first-hand usage, and interviews
Researching the impact tracker technologies involved countless hours of browsing the tools’ websites in order to understand a range of items including features, usage, and pricing. Since the best way to assess a tool’s strengths and weaknesses is to actually use it, we also experimented with as many of the tools as possible in Kopernik’s own projects and activities.
Alongside conducting desk research and using the tools on our own, we also reached out to a number of tech developers and tech users for 1-1.5 hour interviews. These conversations were very informative and helped us understand, for example, how and why these tools were developed, what challenges developers faced, how developers understand their competition, and who uses these technologies.
Spider chart ratings for the first two categories
Tools in the digital data collection apps and SMS communication platform categories are assessed along the following 5 criteria, which are critical determinants from a user perspective.
- Affordability: Prices of monthly subscription plans, as well as running costs.
- Usability: Richness and user-friendliness of features offered.
- Rapidity: Ability to send and receive large volumes of data on a real-time basis.
- Scalability: Ability to handle multiple services, multiple users, and high data load at the same time.
- Transferability: Flexibility in using the services for different purposes, sectors, and contexts.
Please note that the ratings for Digital Data Collection Apps and SMS Communication Platforms are based on each tool’s most appropriate pricing package to the catalogue’s personas, as described in the section below. We estimate the survey requirement of 3,000 questionnaires per year and SMS volume requirement of 54,000 sent/ received messages to/ from 750 respondents every month. We recommend you to review each tool in detail if your requirements are much higher or lower.
We have dissected each criterion into components and sub-components to ensure rigor and objectivity in our assessment. The details of this rigorous analysis are shown in the appendix of the pdf version of the catalogue. For simplicity’s sake, only the high-level scores for each criterion, as well as the aggregate, overall rating are displayed in the technology summary pages.
Whose assessment did we use for the ratings? We opted not to rely on a single data source, so we combined ratings from Kopernik’s own experience, other user experiences, and tech developers’ self-assessment for each of the above criterion.
Who should use this catalogue?
This catalogue has been designed, researched, and written with the following type of organization in mind:
A small to medium social enterprise or a nonprofit organization working in international development or humanitarian emergencies. Its main office is located in an urban area with decent infrastructure and has access to slow to medium internet connection. The organization engages in work in rural, last-mile communities where mobile (2G) and internet (3G) connections are poor. Financially, the organization cannot afford to build its IT capacity in terms of hardware, software, and know-how. Therefore, affordable, turnkey solutions are needed to enhance its impact tracking mechanisms.