Monday, 31 March 2014

Pro Bono O.R. Update- March 2014

As another month passes more has been happening with Pro Bono O.R.   We have had a mention in the Charity times as well as being promoted by GMCVO and Cornwall VSF.  We have now completed projects with Springboard, RSPCA, Works for Us and The Disability Law Service.

Here’s what they have to say:

‘There is a clearer understanding of peoples roles and funding being applied for as well.  This all makes for a more positive workforce with    a clearer understanding of the way forward’
Projects and Communications Manager at Works for Us

‘The work is already supporting our planning and development for next year and allowing us to focus our thoughts and decisions on the places of most importance for our organisation’  
                                                                   CEO at Springboard

‘It allows us to move forward with strategy development with a greater insight into the views of all staff and Trustee, and even more crucially for me it has opened the door for future sessions between staff and Trustees as now we have some precedent, and some trust to move forward with’
Chair of Trustees at The Disability Law Service

We are currently working with HARVS, Elfrida Rathbone, Pipeline, JRF and Marie Curie.

We are about to commence projects with Noise Solutions, Morecombe Bay Credit Union and Workers educational Association.

We are really pleased with how the project is going so far.  If you are interested in receiving Pro Bono O.R. support, becoming a volunteer or just want to find out more information, please email or visit:

If you are not already a member of The OR Society and are interested in joining please visit or send an email to

Additionally you may be interested in becoming a member of our Third Sector Special Interest Group (ORiTS). For more details visit:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The OR Society features in the Daily Telegraph (including video!)

Pro Bono O.R. is a project run by The OR Society. This week The OR Society features in The Telegraph:-

'There is an unsung British success story, dating from the darkest hours of the Second World War which helped to win the war and then became a lynchpin of British business success ever since. And yet many business people have never heard of operational research.
The OR Society is the body for operational research professionals in the UK and its members have made some of the most ground-breaking improvements to the way businesses have operated over the past 75 years. This film introduces OR and its society and demonstrates its impact through four major industrial exponents of the science.'
To watch the film please click on this link: The OR Society - Telegraph
To find out more about Pro Bono O.R. please visit the Pro Bono O.R. webpage  Weather you are interested in becoming a volunteer, are a third sector organisation wanting pro bono help or just want to find out more all the information can be found here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Third Sector Special Interest Group

Did you know The OR Society has a Third Sector special interest group?  The next meeting is on Wednesday 26th March in London and hosts a great line up of speakers.
To find out more and for further information, news of our events and activities, reports of meetings and other interesting features please visit

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Crunching the charity numbers: Third Sector Analysis

This weeks edition of Third Sector had a great article on 'Crunching the charity numbers'
For the full article please click on the following link: Crunching the charity numbers 
Here are a few snippets I've picked out and areas where Pro Bono O.R. is well equipped to help.
"It's crucial to find data to show that what you are doing works. But it is not only about supporting your work with evidence; it is also about finding out how to do things more effectively and how to do more with the resources you have."
"If we want to help the sector take advantage of the opportunities, we need to strengthen its capability to work with data."
"But Wilding recognises there are barriers that stop charities from using and analysing their data - most notably the lack of skills and resources."
To find more about Pro Bono O.R. please visit Pro Bono webpage or email felicity.mcleister@theorsociety

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Pro Bono O.R. is promoted by GMCVO

Last month myself and two of the Pro Bono O.R. steering group took a trip up to Manchester.  After a very successful meeting with GMCVO the Pro Bono O.R. scheme is being promoted on the GMCVO website: and will be circulated to its members in the March newsletter.  So watch this space, if you are based in the Greater Manchester and surrounding areas and looking to volunteer on a project, there should be some near you very soon!

For more information please email

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Reminder: Unlocking the Value of Data for Charities and Other Voluntary groups. Free event. 26 March 2014 @ 3pm London .

OR In the Third Sector - Afternoon Meeting

Unlocking the Value of Data for Charities and Other Voluntary groups

With the advent of fast computers and the internet, the total amount of world data is forecast to grow 50-fold in the next decade, yet only 1% of this data is currently used productively.

This event will explore how charities and voluntary groups can use data to improve their impact and make better decisions.

Our speakers will describe their real life experiences of using data and demonstrate the benefits that effective data analysis has brought to their organisations. 

The list of speakers includes:

Mat Ilic is the Policy and Research Director of Only Connect.
Mat will talk about how to use data analysis to produce useful evidence in charities

Colin Stewart is a consultant Analyst at Caversham Analytics.
Using maps of data and analysis to support local decision making using quantum GIS and Microsoft Excel.

Tracey Gyateng is the Project Manager for NPC’s "Data for Impact" stream of work.
Tracey will talk about increasing access to government administrative datasets to measure the impact of the voluntary and community sector.

Michael Cooke is the Head of Analytics at Marie Curie Cancer Care
Michael will talk about using data linkage to explore the impact of community nursing at the end of life, and about mapping publically available data to help the NHS make better decisions about commissioning end of life care.

Date:                           26th March 2014
Time:                          Start time 15:00 hrs
Venue:                       New  Philanthropy Capital, 185 Park Street, London, SE1 9BL
Price:                          Entry is free of charge

To book your place please e-mail John Holt at

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

See how Pro Bono O.R. helped Springboard with its resource planning

'Resource planning has been a stumbling block for Springboard for years. As a new CEO I know it’s important to enable innovation and growth at Springboard and a key part of that was re-thinking how we plan our services.' 

Mary Dawson (CEO) 

A resource planning tool 

Springboard for Children:
Working to change the effects of underachievement and social exclusion among children in deprived communities

The client’s problem:
To develop a resource planning tool that can be used to examine different options together with a short report

The solution
Pulled together the key financial and staff information into one spreadsheet
Created a summary of key statistics that updates automatically as resources are adjusted The charity was able to get a fresh perspective and benefit from an innovative solution in a short timescale The volunteer enjoyed using their skills to improve processes within a charity that is working to improve the lives of children in deprived communities
The charity was able to get a fresh perspective and benefit from an innovative solution in a short time scale
The volunteer enjoyed using their skills to improve processes within a charity that is working to improve the lives of children in deprived communities 

Created a user friendly tool to conduct scenario analysis on various resource options and allows the user to easily compare options

The approach
The charity runs two literacy schemes amongst schools in London and Manchester. It has a range of staff working on the schemes from managers to volunteers, each with a unique salary and working pattern. I began by pulling the information together into a spreadsheet, allowing for both unique and average salaries, so that the key information could be extracted easily for reports to the Trustees. I created a tool that could conduct scenario analysis by varying the inputs (schools, pupils, staff). The tool had to be flexible to allow for different staff roles (and associated costs),  but with constraints to ensure there were enough staff to meet the staff to pupil ratio. This tool is now being used to generate new ideas and ways of working and create a budget plan for 2014/2015 academic year and beyond.

The benefits
Staff now have ownership of their planning and we have already generated some interesting new ideas to help more children 

'The work is already supporting our planning and development for next year and allowing us to focus our thoughts and decisions on the places of most importance for our organisation. It has helped us to come up with new solutions already.'

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