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Using data to help cross-sector partnerships address complex problems

As part of the SIX Funders Node, SIX will be leading on a new global project exploring how data can be used to help cross-sector partnerships address complex problems. Our focus is on the role that philanthropy can play in these partnerships.


SIX will be leading on the project in partnership with Nesta in the UK, the McConnell Foundation in Canada, Open North in Canada, the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Germany and Lankelly Chase in the UK. We’ll also be working with other partners across the world.

Why are we focusing on data?

The social challenges we face are growing in scale and complexity. We need to get smarter about our interventions and work across sectors if we’re going to have the impact we want. Data can help provide the necessary evidence to ensure our interventions are targeting those that it need it most in the most cost-effective way, and promote better prevention of social harms.

Until now, most data systems are being developed exclusively by the private sector and the long term consequences are not fully understood nor being debated publicly. Philanthropy and civil society aren’t engaging fast enough in this topic.

While there are some active national level conversations and examples, there is a lack of documentation and international connections leveraging pioneering work and insights.

An alliance of foundations from the SIX Funders Node are keen to pioneer data-enhanced systemic change around complex social challenges, generating models and inspiration for others to use.

Key components of this work

· A high-level global scan of examples of cross-sector partnerships

· 4-5 in-depth case studies from around the world highlighting the potential for data to be used in evidence-based systems change

· An analysis and summary of our findings - highlighting key challenges, opportunities and questions for discussion

· Communicating and sharing our findings with key players in this field - helping to generate further discussion on the challenges and opportunities

· Hosting a few key gatherings around the world to share our findings and open the discussion to key stakeholders in this field and identify what’s needed in   the future to protect civil society and increase systematic change using data

We will work through some of the complex issues around privacy, who owns algorithms and data, how to protect both the short and long-term public interest, and how to build up design and implementation capability across civil society, transparency and accountability and the role of philanthropy.

Why SIX?

This work was initiated by a group of foundations as part of the SIX Funders Node, a global collective of more than 70 foundations from 17 countries who are interested in how they can be more innovative in their approach and practice. Through the SIX Funders Node and SIX’s large cross-sector global network, we can connect with a variety of stakeholders to find diverse case studies and success stories.

For more information, please contact

Call for examples! 

We are looking for global examples of where data has been used in cross-sector partnerships to address complex problems. Our focus is on the role that philanthropy can play in these partnerships. Please contact Jordan using the above email address. 


Informal Advisory Board

Rose Shuman, BrightFront Group

Rose Shuman is an experienced technology & data consultant with focus on developing world contexts, an ICT nonprofit founder of Question Box, a TED Fellow and a Senior Fellow at the USC Marshall School Society and Business Laboratory. She publishes widely in development, governance and business innovation publications. Rose is on the UK Guardian newspaper's Global Development Advisory Panel.

Rose has a strong understanding of analytics, as well as extensive communication and facilitation experience with cross-functional stakeholders, both internal and external. She understands operational challenges and interpreting them in the context of data and digital technology products and strategies. Rose is an effective communicator at articulating the value of data, data driven business methodologies, and ICT solutions. She is expert at authoring detailed business/product specification documents, use cases, business case and requirement models.

Jesse Bourns, Powered by Data, Co-Founder and Technical Director

Jesse has a diverse background in technology that includes tech support, QA, interface integration, user experience, business analysis, and software project management. However, his current focus is on helping organizations use technology to improve their business processes. His specialty is understanding organization’s problem obtaining or sharing data, and then working with them to design and implement a plan with the right mix of commercial, open source, and custom solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. He is also currently managing director of Ajah, an online database for funding opportunities in the charitable sector.

Gavin Starks

Gavin explores the impact of the web on business, society and culture.

He has co-created over a dozen data-driven organisations to bring multidisciplinary leadership to the digital age. These have addressed data infrastructure, policy, science, communications, innovation and skills across fintech, climate change, supply chain management, modern slavery, the circular economy, digital media, telecoms, machine learning, blockchain and the internet of things.

Gavin co-chaired the development of the Open Banking Standard and was founding CEO of the Open Data Institute, working with Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Under his leadership, it unlocked over $100M of direct economic impact, incubated over 50 companies, launched franchises across 20 countries, trained 6,000 people, recruited a world-class board and team, and grew its turnover to $7M/y in under three years.

He is currently convening federated partnership programmes to help address the Sustainable Development Goals.