Sector bodies call for new data collective

3 June, 2020


A group of sector bodies has proposed the formation of a data collective, with the aim of coordinating efforts to gather and use data in the charity sector.

In a blog post on the Catalyst website, the group states that the COVID-19 crisis has had a huge negative impact and that the most vulnerable will be most impacted.

The groups says that in order to respond properly, we need to better understand:

  1. The current and emerging needs of individuals and communities during the crisis
  2. What services are being delivered to help meet those needs
  3. Whether those services are effective
  4. How the lockdown has financially impacted people and the organisations that serve them

The blog post explains that the information needed to overcome these issues is held by different people in different places.

This lack of cohesion means that the VSCE sector does not properly understand the very problems that it is trying to solve and therefore struggles to adequately meet the needs of society.

Its solution is for the 15 organisations involved to work together to explore ideas on how they can better share skills and insights with others.

It also says that it would welcome other organisations that collect and analyse good quality data to join the collective – this would involve making their data publicly available and exploring how their efforts can be combined with those of other organisations.

In return, the organisations involved can get pro bono advice on how to collect and curate data so it can be used and shared ethically; and other members of the collective will be able to signpost to their work, knowing that there is a dedicated contact point that can answer questions on how to use the data they hold.

The group has identified seven areas of work that it wants to collaborate on during the current crisis:

Work that’s needed now:

  • A mapping of different data collection efforts across the sector
  • Better signposting to them, with named people who can help with understanding the information being shared
  • Joining up of complementary efforts to understand the needs of specific sectors and groups
  • Start working together on new collaborative datasets about how the sector is responding to COVID-19

Work that’s needed longer term:

  • Improved approaches to collecting and standardising data so it’s more useful
  • Improved approaches to surveying organisations and individuals
  • Support for using and presenting data so non-experts can understand it

The group is not aiming to develop a single approach to collecting and sharing data across the sector; rather, it is inviting organisations that lead the way in data initiatives to share their work publicly and to practically explore how they can support others to use it, contribute to it and collaborate on doing that.

Those organisations that wish to get involved can email:

The 15 founder collaborators are:

  • 360Giving
  • British Red Cross
  • Catalyst
  • Centre for Youth Impact
  • Citizens Advice
  • DataKind UK
  • London Plus
  • NCVO
  • New Philanthropy Capital
  • Open Data Institute
  • OCSI
  • Pro Bono Economics
  • Pt2
  • SIB Group
  • Turn2us
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