What do we mean when we talk about data?

Black and white photo of a tape cassette juxtaposed with modern infographics


Here at the Data Evolution project we are pretty comfortable talking about data. It’s in the name of the project after all. And in the name of both of our partners (DataKind UK and Data Orchard CIC).

But what do we actually mean by that word ‘data’?

Broad definition

If you take our survey (please do take our survey). You’ll see this:

“When we say ‘data’ we have a broad definition. We include all the types of information your organisation might collect, store, analyse and use.”

For most charities and social enterprises this might include:

– information about your clients, service users or beneficiaries
– which services and activities service users receive
– how you engage with service users
– financial information
– details of staff and volunteers
– customer feedback/satisfaction
– outcomes/impact measures
– income generation (funding/sales/contracts)
– information about social needs/social markets held by you or other organisations (such as councils, the NHS, the government, academics, other networks)
– monitoring and evaluation
– key performance indicators.

And the list could go on.

Using data well

Both DataKind UK and Data Orchard CIC have seen that by examining these (and other) sets of data charities and social enterprises can make better decisions. Social sector organisations have used data to target their services more effectively, design new services and anticipate the needs of service users in the future.
There are some great examples such as the Mapping Hunger report from the Trussell Trust (opens a PDF)  the Data for good report from Nesta (opens a PDF)

We need your help

We are dedicated to helping charities and social enterprises develop the skills and tools necessary to make better use of data.

But to do that we need, you’ve guessed it: more data.

That’s why this very brief survey is really important to us.

If you work (paid or unpaid, in any role) for a charity or social enterprise registered in England or Wales please, please

Take part in our survey.

We’d really appreciate it