The PBA team members, Louis Luangkesorn and Rachel Chung, both had experience with volunteer retention projects and research, which made them a great fit for the HMH project. “We thought that this project would provide an opportunity to put into practice some of our thoughts on how to look at volunteer retention as well as provide a student an opportunity to work with a data analysis project from the very beginning,” said Luangkesorn.
The team started the project by examining the datasets, which presented difficulty because the data was in a form that was common in data on staff and abilities but not amenable to analysis. They conducted an exercise in data munging to convert the data into standard forms and then developed a number of visualizations of the volunteers including their geographic distribution, age, employment status, volunteer roles, and tenure (length of volunteering).
Presenting data to a nontechnical audience is an important part of the decision-making process. “Our Volunteer Services staff has very little analytical knowledge, and the community partners [Pro Bono Analytics team] were able to break down the information in a way for us to understand,” said Cheronda Rutherford, senior volunteer coordinator at Houston Methodist Hospital. Luangkesorn and his team chose to present their exploratory data analysis with a discussion on how the Houston Methodist Hospital Volunteer staff could interpret the output and take action based on different presentations.
The team presented several visualizations in a dashboard to track volunteer activity, number of active volunteers, new volunteers and volunteers becoming inactive. Using a Jupyter Notebook – a notebook that can be shared via Dropbox, GitHub, etc. – with the code hidden allowed the dashboard to be viewed in any browser and allowed the team to provide text to remind HMH staff how to interpret the results alongside the plots.
As a result of this Pro Bono Analytics project, HMH is in the process of updating its computer system to use the dashboard created by Luangkesorn and Chung. For their efforts, the team was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Volunteer Award by the hospital.