How can a team of actuaries help the community? Any ideas?

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An actuary in training trying to analyse some data

My employer, NAB, gives us two volunteer days of leave a year – days in which we can volunteer in the community. One day is supposed to be used by teams together; to find something that is both team building and useful to the community. The other day can be used this way, but can also be used to do something individual.

Last year, my team went to a school for disabled children, and painted some of the walls, and did some gardening. And while this was a great cause, I really don’t think it was the best use of our skills.

So I’ve been trying to think of something that would be better for us to do together as a team. There are nearly thirty of us, and we would probably only manage to get twenty to any particular activity. Most, but not all, are actuaries, or actuarially trained. The others are data and coding specialists. As a team, we are great at analysing data, building and programming spreadsheets and databases, and pretty good at finding numerical information out in the world, building presentations about it, and writing reports about it.

We’re probably not in the top half of the population at gardening or painting.

What could we do? So far my brainstorming with my team has led to a few ideas:

  • Create a great talk about using maths in real life so that our team can go and present it to  high school students (or even primary school students)
  • Find a group that needs some analysis of data in order to improve their services (this is a bit vague, and limited to organisations that wouldn’t be regarded as political lobbying)
  • build databases for groups to help them manage their volunteers, contributors etc better
  • analyse a fundraising campaign for a charity – what type of fundraising gave the best return on investment.

Many of these are easier done as single activities, but some of them could probably be converted into something like a hackathon for actuaries.

I thought I would ask the internet. How do my readers think my team can best help the community? Do you know of a charitable organisation that could use our help?

  3 comments for “How can a team of actuaries help the community? Any ideas?

  1. Jenny Lyon
    August 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Great question
    How about helping a board or management with a risk management plan.
    Perhaps you could help via an organisation like Social Ventures Australia http://socialventures.com.au/consulting-services/ who offer consulting services to not for profits. The link provides some ideas of the services they offer which you could also consider or they might be able to provide some ideas of organisations who need help.
    Andrew Gale (FIAA) is Chair of the Board of the Australian Society for Progress and Wellbeing which was launching this year and may have some thoughts as he has indicated he could use some actuarial skill.

  2. Marian Keane
    August 11, 2014 at 5:24 am

    On data analysis, check out datakind.org. I like your first idea on creating a great maths talk – I always thought the story behind the Monty Hall problem would provide good material for a talk…

  3. John Ranford
    August 13, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I have been a legacy fundraiser and I’m involved trying to formulate an initiative to fund youth work in the very long term. Over 1000 youth worker jobs were lost last year, mainly from church based programmes. The initiative would bring together a range of church based youth charities and promote legacies. But the difference is that we would place the legacies into an endowment fund to pay for future youth work. The questions we need answering are: how long will the legacy promotion activity take to yield income, and what will the growth curve be, and what likely yields could be gained from an endowment fund. I have done extensive calculations that could form a starting point, but to take the scheme forward, a professional actuarial assessment is needed to gain the confidence of potential funders. Your input would make a huge difference. Thank you.

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