About the project


The Data Evolution project came about because two organisations, Data Orchard and DataKind UK, share a goal: ‘To help organisations working for good in the world, to use data to achieve greater impact.’

Having worked with many charities and social enterprises we noticed there were certain stages in their data development. Of course, no two organisations were the same, and there were multiple factors affecting their internal awareness and practices surrounding data. Yet, we suspected there was a pattern, a journey? We also observed that despite the emergence of powerful and transformational uses of data to address social, economic and environmental problems, it seemed very few had seized the opportunity. Indeed the majority seem to be grappling with more basic challenges. So, the Data Evolution project came about so we could better understand what the journey towards data maturity looked like and where social sector organisations are along the way.

The Data Evolution project was conducted between March 2016 and January 2017. It aimed to explore whether we could create a framework and tool for measuring data maturity in the social sector. We wanted to define, test and share a methodology that would:

– Enable organisations to measure their progress and plan next steps in their evolution to data maturity.

– Offer more straightforward diagnosis of needs, priorities, and capacities of social sector organisations (especially for providers of support around data like ours).

– Increase awareness about how to use data for good and a shared theory and language to talk about it.


Details of the research methodology can be found in the full project report. In brief, the six key components of the research were:

– A review of existing Data Maturity models in different sectors.

– Two workshops attended by 56 social sector leaders and people in data-related roles.

– A national survey, with 200 respondents to get an indicative picture of the current state of data maturity in the sector.

– In depth data and analytics assessments involving interviews with 47 people from 12 organisations to dig deeper into the contours of data maturity and test out how to measure it.

– Creation of a prototype tool for assessing, scoring, and generating basic data maturity diagnostic/benchmarking reports.

– Design of a theoretical model and framework for describing the journey towards data maturity.

Data Orchard and DataKind UK

Data Orchard CIC is a social enterprise, operating nationally and based on the English/Welsh borders. DataKind UK is a national charity, based in London. It is part of the international DataKind network. Both came into being in 2013. The two organisations offer different services and approaches. DataKind brings the wonder of data science to the social sector by bringing together teams of pro bono data scientists from the private sector to work with charities on data science projects. Data Orchard specialises in research, statistics and data for social, economic and environmental good. It delivers consultancy and training to enable organisations to collect, share, analyse and present data.

The Team

There were many people involved in advising, supporting and delivering the project. Our special thanks to the following for their valuable contributions:

Project Team

– Sian Basker, Project Lead, Data Orchard

– Emma Prest, Project Lead, Data Evolution

– Madeleine Spinks, Senior Research Consultant, Data Orchard

– Ben Proctor, Communications Lead, Data Orchard

– Tony Cramp, Research Consultant, Data Orchard

– Tirza Abb, Graphic Designer, Think Blink Design

– Clem Attwood, Research Consultant, Data Orchard

– Daisy Bishop, Research Assistant, Data Orchard

Data Scientist Volunteer

– Stefania Garisto, Data Science Volunteer, PHD Student at Imperial College

Project Board

– Duncan Ross, Data and Analytics Director, TES Global (Founder/Chair DataKind UK)

– Alexandra Rehak, Practice Head of Internet of Things, OVUM

– Madeleine Thornton, Social Impact Analyst, Big Issue Invest

– Gaia Marcus, Project Manager, Youth Homelessness Data Bank, Centrepoint

– Ed Anderton, Strategy and Policy Manager, Access: The Foundation for Social Investment

Data Maturity Experts

– Jake Porway, Founder and Executive Director, DataKind, New York

– Duncan Ross, Data and Analytics Director, TES Global (Founder/Chair DataKind UK)

– Jonathan Sedar, Consulting Data Scientist Applied AI Ltd

– Shyann Seet, Independent Data and Analytics Advisor,

– Hilary Mason, Data Scientist, Fast Forward Labs


We are grateful to the four funders who contributed towards this research:


– Access: The Foundation for Social Investment

– The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

– Teradata