The cycle of good impact practice: Review your existing data

How useful is your existing data?

Many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups have to make tough decisions about their activities and resources. We are all looking for useful information to help us make those decisions and communicate our decisions to others.

Reviewing your data is about asking yourself: What data do I have? Is it accurate and consistent? How is the data being used? Do I really need it? Am I missing anything important?

Use the circles of data exercise to engage your team in the data review process

We know reviewing your data can be overwhelming and you may want to involve your wider team to reduce knowledge gaps. We have created a practical 45 – 60 minute exercise to help you start unpicking the information you need to know to review your data.

We have prepared a series of slides with notes (worksheet 2) to help you run the exercise by yourself or with your team.

Once you have mapped the data you currently collect and hold, ask yourself:

  • Is the data accurate and consistent? If collecting quality data is a challenge for you, explore ways to engage staff through our resources related to developing a learning and impact culture.
  • How do you use this data? Do you collect this data for funders, or do you use it for yourselves, too? Does it help to inform decision-making within the organisation?
  • Do you really need it? Does it serve a strong enough purpose? Could you get the same information elsewhere? Could it be put to better use?
  • Are you missing anything important? Where do you lack evidence to demonstrate the change you are expecting? What might other stakeholders – funders, policymakers, the media, or partner organisations – want to know? Are there any gaps in knowledge about your issue across the wider sector?
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Plan

The cycle of good impact practice defines what impact practice is and articulates a clear path to success. It follows a four-step cycle. This page is part of Plan, the first step in the cycle.

Other resources from this step in the cycle

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This webpage has been adapted from the Inspiring Impact programme, which ran from 2011 until early 2022 and supported voluntary organisations to improve their impact practice. More information about the Inspiring Impact programme.

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