Rethink Data


Join our rethinking data workshops on 28th May & 8th June

Gillian Scholes

Join us for two upcoming workshops on rethinking data:  Workshop 1 on 28th May, 10am – 11.30pm: Inclusive data: charting a course  Workshop 2 on 8th June, 10am – 11.30pm: Shared intelligence: databanks, real people and decisions Workshop 1: What should ‘inclusive data’ mean, and what could the creation and use of more inclusive data look like? What’s the potential value to the social sector of better equalities data? What are the risks, including of harm, for charities and funders, and how can they be managed? How can the social sector work to deliver an inclusive data agenda that benefits… Read more “Join our rethinking data workshops on 28th May & 8th June”

We need shared intelligence to make good decisions

Rosie McLeod

It’s striking how much more effort we put into evaluating whether something worked, rather than on working out what people need and want in the first place. But while it’s challenging to understand changing social needs, doing so is critical to deploying resources effectively.   Funders and charities often find themselves working in relative isolation, with little evidence to draw upon. This means decisions on funding and provision are made on the basis of inadequate data about need/demand, by people at a distance from the issue. It should be no surprise then when resources do not go to where they’re most… Read more “We need shared intelligence to make good decisions”

Data standards 3: Can you model and measure the social value of interventions?

Rosie McLeod

More and more people are promoting data ‘standards’ for impact measurement and ‘social value’, to be able to describe programme interventions in terms of predictable social effects. Within Social Value and impact investing circles, there’s an ambition to get to a point where we can look at a raft of social interventions and estimate the likely social return on investment from given inputs. People hope that data standards will help structure options for decision-makers: ‘if we invest X, the return will be Y’.   If corporations and other social investors are going to base their decisions on data about inputs, outputs, … Read more “Data standards 3: Can you model and measure the social value of interventions?”

Data standards 2: What outcomes can be standardised?

Rosie McLeod

The argument for standardisation of data for outcomes/value is fairly well accepted. Standardised measures allow us to aggregate and compare data to build knowledge. In healthcare, established measures like Qualitative Life Years are predominant and underpin where resources go. But in our sector, an unintended consequence of the desire for aggregated data can be a mismatch between what data charities want to use, what funders want, and what matters to users.   The expectation that an outcome standard will always be appropriate can lead to conflict if it is imposed upon a sector and population group but doesn’t fit the context.… Read more “Data standards 2: What outcomes can be standardised?”

Understanding impact: Finding what’s genuinely useful

Rosie McLeod and James Noble

There’s a fundamental problem with ‘impact measurement’ in the sector: charities can rarely actually demonstrate impact, but there’s an expectation that they will. At a time when many charities are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate their relevance to funders, demonstrating impact is a top priority.  But let’s start with why it’s so rare. There are two big challenges: impact itself takes time, so you need to stay in touch with people to measure it; and impact is caused by many things, so you need a way to determine your own contribution. Addressing these requires expertise and resources rarely… Read more “Understanding impact: Finding what’s genuinely useful”

Data standards 1: Why data must be inclusive

Rosie McLeod

There’s a lot of work happening around data standards in the charity sector. ‘Data standard’ is a very broad term used in different ways, but the goal is generally interoperability: being able to exchange standardised data between different systems, owned by different parties. Having common approaches is a requirement for comparison and aggregation, for building a common evidence base, and advancing knowledge – standards are important in any field of learning.    There are three main areas where data standards are being advanced: inclusivity of contextual data, outcomes, and social value for whole interventions. Each brings quite different considerations, opportunities, and… Read more “Data standards 1: Why data must be inclusive”

Putting the user at the heart of data

Tris Lumley

Data should help us answer fundamental questions as organisations and as a sector:  What strengths and assets do communities have?  What support and resources do people want and need?  How well do existing services meet those opportunities and needs?  How can services and products be improved?  What gaps remain and who will address them?  How can the people and communities affected use these tools themselves?  Despite all the progress that’s been made, much of the data collected by charities doesn’t really help answer these key questions. We want to highlight data and analysis that does. Here are two great examples… Read more “Putting the user at the heart of data”