HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Peter Swanson grew up in a small town in western New York where there was still a fire whistle to sound an emergency to the community of volunteers. From an early age hearing the whistle blow, Peter became fascinated with joining the fire service. As soon as he could – the day after his 17th birthday – Peter signed up to be a volunteer responder. His time in the fire service led to an internship in the Department of Emergency Medicine while in college. His first task was spending his summers in the basement of various hospitals digging through endless paper medical charts. Laborious, tedious work that resulted in changes in emergency care. He saw first-hand how data can actually improve the lives of real patients, and he was fascinated at the connection between the analysis and practice.
Fast forward. After graduate school, Peter accepted a data analyst position in public finance. He witnessed how difficult it was for nonprofits and social ventures to get the funding they needed to do more good. So, he left finance to go into IT as he thought he could help nonprofits be more effective by getting more technology. But, he learned quite the opposite. Nonprofits didn’t need more technology – they needed support putting good tech into practical use. There had to be a better way.
And the idea of 501ops was born.
That was in 2014, and he started much like he began: picking up manilla file folders of information and manually inputting it into an enterprise system for his clients. Since then the company has evolved dramatically. Most nonprofits are used to dealing with the limitations of technology, and change their processes to make do with the limitations. Our approach is different.
We know that to optimize the power of analytics, we must understand the day-to-day operations of the nonprofits we serve.