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‘Taking grantmakers on a journey with data and insights’: meet incoming 360Giving trustee Jo Kerr

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Over the coming months, we are delighted to be welcoming six new trustees onto our board. One of them is Jo Kerr, Director of Innovation and Impact at Turn2us. In this post, we speak to Jo about the changes in digital, technology and data in charities, and what excites her about joining 360Giving. You can get to know all our new trustees in our Trustees’ Week 2020 blogpost.

Hi Jo!

You’re the Director of Innovation and Impact at Turn2us, can you tell us about your role there?

Turn2us is an anti-poverty organisation that works specifically in the UK. We provide financial support and information to people experiencing poverty and financial hardship. We also influence policy and advocate to tackle the symptoms and causes of poverty.

My focus is working with the team to understand our impact, and look at gaps and areas where we can increase it through innovation. 

We have a focus on digital and technology – a lot of our innovation happens online. This is a particular strength of Turn2us – for example, our benefits calculator has been used by 1.5 million people in the past year, and supported them to claim £1.2billion in additional benefits. 

There’s now also a big focus on data and insight within our directorate to help us innovate and fill gaps in our impact. And we’re also looking at where service design and user experience can inform our offline work as well. 

 

You’ve had quite a few digital roles in the charity sector – what changes have you seen in your time? 

I come from a digital background in the charity sector. I’ve seen the status quo go from having one ‘webmaster’ or ‘techy person’ in a charity of 500 people to the arrival of digital teams, to now having expertise across an organisation where everyone has digital skills. I’ve seen that journey happen over the last 13 to 14 years, which is amazing.

Now, I think charities really do ‘get’ digital and tech in a lot of ways, and many understand that digital services can scale and support lots of people. I think that’s been really impactful.  

 

And what about data in charities? 

On the data side, I think charities are behind the curve. It’s interesting looking back and asking why, when we were looking at digital and technology in the social sector, didn’t we also look at data, insights and data maturity? I think the work that DataKind and 360Giving have done in different parts of the sector have supported charities to better understand and use data, and make data-informed decisions which is fantastic.

At Turn2us, it’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve made steps forward in data and insights. That’s a huge part of my role at Turn2us and I think the charity sector could utilise data and insights more to increase the impact of their work.

 

What excites you about being a 360Giving board member?

One is the increasing role of data in the sector, the potential for that to support charities in a lot of different ways, and the role that 360Giving plays in the whole ecosystem.

The second is around the need for more transparency in the grantmaking sector and the fact that it has been quite opaque until relatively recently. If we can get more understanding of what is being funded, and when and how – and set that against the picture of need across the country and look at where the gaps are – I think that is going to be incredibly powerful and potentially quite transformational.

I think the approach of 360Giving is brilliant. It’s taking grantmakers on a journey with data and insights, helping them to see the potential and understand where their gaps are. But also asking, ‘What are we learning from the data, and what actions can we take?’ Making it actionable and creating change is what it’s really about.

 

You’ve been on boards since your mid-twenties. What’s been your experience as a ‘young’ trustee?

People have a lot to offer at different stages of their career.

I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘young’ trustee now – I’m 35. But I have been on boards over the past 9 to10 years, so maybe at one point I was! What made the difference for me was trustee development programmes. I did one called Trustee Academy. I think they’re super helpful as they go through the different elements of governance and the duties of a trustee. They helped me match up my experience with those responsibilities, so I realised I already had a lot of the experience I needed. 

I think we need more different types of people on boards generally. Maybe there will be times in my career where I need to be conscious of taking up positions on boards that need to be more representative in terms of race, disability, or other lived experience, so I’m not taking up a space that somebody else should be sitting in. I think enabling diversity is something we are all responsible for.

 

Jo will join 360Giving as a trustee, in July 2021. You can get to know all our incoming trustees in our Trustees’ Week 2020 blogpost.