Privacy-guaranteed Data Collection: The Case for Efficient Resource Management of Nonprofit Organizations
Through the personal experience of volunteering at ASU Project Humanities, an organization that provides resources such as clothing and toiletries to the homeless population in Downtown Phoenix, I noticed efficiently serving the needs of the homeless population is an important endeavor, but the current processes for Phoenix nonprofits to collect data are manual, ad-hoc, and inefficient. This leads to the research question: is it possible to improve this process of collecting statistics on client needs, tracking donations, and managing resources using technology? Background research includes an interview with ASU Project Humanities, articles by analysts, and related work including case studies of current technologies in the nonprofit community. Major findings include i) a lack of centralized communication in nonprofits collecting needs, tracking surplus donations, and sharing resources, ii) privacy assurance is important to homeless individuals, and iii) pre-existing databases and technological solutions have demonstrated that technology has the ability to make an impact in the nonprofit community. To improve the process, standardization, efficiency, and automation need to increase. As a result of my analysis, the thesis proposes a prototype solution which includes two parts: an inventory database and a web application with forms for user input and tables for the user to view. This solution addresses standardization by showing a consistent way of collecting data on need requests and surplus donations while guaranteeing privacy of homeless individuals. This centralized solution also increases efficiency by connecting different agencies that cater to these clients. Lastly, the solution demonstrates the ability for resources to be made available to each organization which can increase automation. In conclusion, this database and web application has the potential to improve nonprofit organizations’ networking capabilities, resource management, and resource distribution. The percentile of homeless individuals connected to these resources is expected to increase substantially with future live testing and large-scale implementation.