Nielsen and the U.N.’s World Food Programme have collaborated since 2011, the same year the company launched its Corporate Social Responsibility program, Nielsen Cares. In 2014, Nielsen Cares embarked on a year-long pro-bono initiative to help WFP improve the way it collects data to fight worldwide hunger.
As part of its mission, WFP assesses food security throughout the world, and inherently relies on effective, reliable and robust data collection. Ensuring this in certain regions, however, can be quite difficult. Often, face-to-face interviews are limited by conflict, disease and other local factors in food-insecure countries. In hopes of overcoming these unique, country-specific challenges, Nielsen provided its guidance and support in four areas: data collection, methodology, analysis and in-country expertise. Together, Nielsen and WFP devised a sophisticated way to achieve reliable data collection, through the use of text (SMS) and interactive voice response (IVR) calls.
As a result of the program, WFP gained a new, fast and cost-efficient way to collect data – cutting the original cost of interviews by more than 50% and reducing its survey time from roughly six weeks to less than one. At Nielsen, employees were given a unique opportunity to build their skills, think differently and apply new methodologies. Or in their words, make an “uncommon impact.”
For Nielsen, this program was an opportunity to take its past projects a step further; to help the World Food Programme build long-term, sustainable capacity instead of simply meeting a short-term need. Additionally, it was an opportunity for Nielsen to uphold its commitment to mobilizing data for good.
The biggest takeaway from this collaboration? That philanthropic collaboration doesn’t always have to be a short-term, check-writing exercise. When done right, the results themselves can be sustainable and game-changing. This collaboration not only exemplifies the impact of big data, and the way it can be leveraged to combat complex, global issues, but the way that companies and organizations can work together to build resources that will deliver results for years to come.