Written by David Hunt on Monday February 22nd 2016 in Latest News

Introducing Pro Bono Analytics

Calling All Volunteers!

We’re really excited to have launched a new initiative at the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) called Pro Bono Analytics



Members of INFORMS have saved corporations billions of dollars by designing more efficient supply chains for retailers, improving processes and scheduling in health care facilities, increasing throughput in manufacturing plants, as well as supporting a wide variety of other industries.


Now we want to encourage you to turn your ORMS talents and energy towards solving problems facing underserved communities or addressing issues related to social injustice!


Pro Bono Analytics matches members willing to volunteer their skills with nonprofit organizations that would benefit from advanced analytics and operations research techniques. The Pro Bono Analytics Committee is building strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations that address a wide variety of problems facing society.  The Pro Bono Analytics Committee is also developing a network of analytics / operations research professionals willing to volunteer some of their time for a good cause.


INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics began in 2015 with a few initial projects. We held a webinar in October directed at nonprofit organizations, and held several events at the INFORMS Annual Conference in Philadelphia in November. The Pro Bono Analytics Committee has been contacted by 20 different nonprofit organizations, and we are in the process of scoping possible projects and sending requests out to our volunteers. These include:


  • Providing analytics coaching to an organization that helps homeless women, allowing the organization to better understand and utilize the data they collect.
  • Developing software to better schedule student workers and mentors, thus helping a nonprofit organization expand a program that offers real-world work experience and coaching to autistic teenagers.
  • Creating a decision model that identifies possible new locations for a nonprofit foundation focused on brightening the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and other crises.
  • Applying marketing science techniques on behalf of a nonprofit that provides services to senior citizens, to help evaluate and promote a congregate dining program that provides seniors with social interaction opportunities.
  • Working with a nonprofit community development organization to design a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of different programs.


A similar program, called Pro Bono OR, has been successfully operating in the United Kingdom for several years.  Some of the problems for which members of the Operational Research Society have volunteered their time include:


  • An international charity to help street children wanted to improve the arguments and evidence for why the group’s work should be funded.
  • A non-governmental organization and social enterprise running a health centre in rural Uganda needed help with its financial position and short-term planning, partly as a result of the complexities of the local reliance on non-cash transactions.
  • Crimestoppers, a charity that helps solve crime through members of the public providing information anonymously, needed to determine how to take on new business and improve performance without a big increase in staffing costs.
  • A housing-related charity running community development projects wanted to improve its use of externally available statistical data and other information in its work.
  • A charity supporting women affected by domestic violence, facing termination of their funding, needed help in evaluating possible new or replacement funding sources.
  • RSPCA, the UK’s leading animal welfare charity, needed a method to estimate how many dogs there are in the UK and how many are moving in and out of welfare/rescue.


If you are interested in volunteering some of your time and talent, or you are just curious about how analytics / operations research can address problems facing society, please visit www.probonoanalytics.org to sign-up and to follow our progress.  Also, watch for events involving Pro Bono Analytics at the INFORMS Analytics Meeting in Orlando in April. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Pro Bono Analytics team at probono@informs.org. We look forward to hearing from you!



To learn more about these Operational Research Society Pro Bono OR projects and others, please visit www.theorsociety.com/Pages/Probono/Probono.aspx and http://probonoOR.blogspot.co.uk/.