Friends of the Semel Institute

Data analysis (Blackbaud) of a UCLA nonprofit’s donor base to maximize donations toward mental health awareness and research


Data Science, Mapbox

NPOs involved

Friends of the Semel Institute


Max Wu, Ashley Zhu, Adithya Nair, Jessica Wong, Katie Li, Kevin Li


Friends of the Semel Institute (FoSI) is a UCLA-based nonprofit aiming to raise awareness and erase stigma for mental illnesses through educational programs. Their flagship film and lecture series, Open Mind, has aired since 2004. They also collect donations to fund a scholarship program for researchers at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.


With thousands of attendees across their various programs but only a small number of staff and limited resources, FoSI is challenged with efficiently engaging their donor base.


Provided with 20 years of donations and event registration data, we set out to help FoSI better organize their fundraising outreach.

Working closely with fundraising staff, we analyzed correlations between event topic interest and donations, investigated trends over time, and identified geographic patterns in the data, which we worked to translate into actionable next steps. We also created an interactive map for FoSI's board to help them visualize their geographic reach and where their donations were coming from.

We presented our data-driven insights to FoSI’s development board, aiming to improve their fundraising strategy, especially in light of the current pandemic.

© 2023 Nova for Good

Last updated September 12th, 2023


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