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Building blocks of health

Client: Novo Nordisk Foundation

Service: Strategy

Industry: Public

Non-profits and foundations often face challenges in demonstrating the impact of their activities and funding. While it is easy to show that money has been handed out or that activities have taken place, proving that these efforts have made a difference in people’s lives can be much more difficult. This is where data and measurement become crucial. By collecting and analysing data, non-profits can gain insights into the impact of their activities and use this information to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to drive positive change in society.

The Challenge

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has embraced a data-driven approach to monitoring, managing, and measuring impact in their funded areas. These include: research, education, innovation, and sustainability. Our team at ADC Denmark (previously DAMVAD Analytics) has been a data partner over the past eight years. During this time, we have provided the foundation with data science, economics, and anthropological resources to optimise and digitise their key performance indicators and indicators for both qualitative and quantitative data. Futhermore, we assist the Novo Nordisk Foundation with data handling, analysis for their annual impact report, and strategy sessions to better integrate information from their grantees.

As one of the world’s major funders of philanthropic activities, the foundation faces the challenge of demonstrating that their donations make a sustainable and significant impact on society. Therefore, remaining data-driven and establishing clear structures and processes to monitor and assess the societal impact of their activities is critical for the philanthropic business model of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. With the foundation’s potential to create meaningful and visible change, we helped them utilise their data to drive positive societal results which improve the lives of people and support sustainable development.

The Approach

Our team deployed a variety of techniques to assess the impact of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s funding. We utilised advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to analyse text applications, ensuring that even unstructured data was standardised for maximum quality. In addition, we gathered and merged large amounts of data from various sources, including research publications, medical guidelines, and applications. This allowed us to determine the percentage of research publications that resulted from the foundation’s support. Consequently, we revealed the concrete impact of their funding on clinical guidelines and ultimately having a positive effect on patients.

We worked closely with the staff in the Impact Area of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Our innovative approach not only demonstrated the societal impact of their activities but also showcased the power of utilising data-driven methods to maximise their reach and effectiveness. Furthermore, by utilising advanced methods like NLP and merging various data sources, we were able to provide the foundation with clear, quantitative insights into the impact of their funding. Overall, this allows them to make informed decisions that create meaningful change.

The Solutions

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has established an annual impact assessment report and an interactive dashboard with input, output, outcome, and impact data to showcase the positive impact of their funding on various areas. This includes research, talent development, collaboration, and new knowledge creation. Since the report and the dashboard integrate multiple data sources, areas, and indicators, our team of data scientists, anthropologists, and economists ensures that the data is standardised and consistent each year to make it replicable.

Impact for the Client

The ongoing collaboration has equipped the foundation with valuable insights and data that they can easily apply in conversations with communities, universities, and other stakeholders. With this data, the foundation can use and apply their resources more effectively, leading to more efficient and impactful activities. In addition, the data has played a critical role in helping the foundation better comprehend their ecosystem, identify areas where change is required, and take strategic actions to bring about meaningful improvements.

Team taking notes


As funding for non-profits continues to increase, the need to demonstrate meaningful impact has become more necessary. While there is a surge of academic research and publications, it is not always clear how these findings translate into tangible improvements in people’s lives. Without a direct connection between research and impact, non-profits struggle to show the real value of their efforts. Counting the number of activities or articles produced is no longer enough to demonstrate an organisation’s contribution to society. Therefore, it is vital for non-profits to focus on measuring and demonstrating impact. This ensures that their funding generates the intended outcomes and positively impacts society.

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Sofie Lohmann

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