Seven great ways to make the most of your data

By Lucy de Las Casas 8 July 2016

If you’re thinking about what to do with your data, or how to make the most of data from external sources, then you’re in good company.

I recently went to a great workshop run by the Data Evolution project, which explored the issues and opportunities around becoming a data-driven organisation. There was a lot of discussion on a wide range of topics, but the main thing I took away from it was the ambition among charities to do much more with data. So if you’re one of them, here are some steps to take:

  1. Learn your data terminology: The power of data aims to demystifies the language of data. It also explores why data is relevant to charities, and considers whether the sector is making the most of the opportunities offered by data. (Spoiler alert: we’re not, but the report makes some recommendations for improvement).
  2. Be inspired by others: DataKind’s website offers examples of what charities have achieved by using data.
  3. Get support: There is support out there for charities who want to make the most of data, but it can be hard to identify and navigate. Here’s a list of support providers that NPC, DataKind and Data Orchard have started to collate. Let us know in the comments if there are others to add.
  4. Know the law: Charities need to think carefully about the legal and ethical side of using their data. Data protection is central to this and something charities can’t ignore. Protecting your beneficiaries, protecting your organisation, outlines ten considerations for charities on the safe use of personal data.
  5. Make the most of pooled resources: Not every organisation can have a team of data analysts, or even one of them. Our Data Labs project aims to open up government administrative data to the not-for-profit sector and overcome some of the barriers that organisations face in carrying out data analysis. The Justice Data Lab is already up and running in the Ministry of Justice—take a look.
  6. Get some training: We’re hosting a one day workshop for charities and funders to help them understand what their data is telling and how they can make best use of it. Sign up here.
  7. Help others to help you: The Data Evolution project (run by DataKind UK and Data Orchard) is developing a model to help social sector organisations understand their ‘data maturity’ (what stage they’re at in terms of how they’re using data) and their resulting needs. Help make it a reality by taking their 5 minute survey.

If this has inspired you, come along to our annual conference #NPCIgnites, where we’ll be discussing how charities should be making the most of everything from data to digital, devolution to disrupting systems. Find out more and sign up today.