Towards an evidence-led social sector

NPC believes that the effective use of evidence increases charities’ positive impact. But this potential is unrealised because good practices and systems are lacking. Here we set out what it looks like to use evidence effectively and suggest ways to achieve it.

Charities and funders are tackling difficult issues with limited resources: trying to improve people’s lives, tackle injustices, change government policies and help cure diseases.

We need to use evidence effectively to understand what works and to, in turn, achieve our missions.

Here we set out our vision for an evidence-led social sector and some practical steps to get there.

We start by discussing why we believe good evidence of what works can help the charity sector, and what kind of approach we should be aiming for. In this we have been deliberately ambitious. But we also need to be realistic; we suggest some immediate changes that organisations and sectors could do to help us along the journey, and look at existing pockets of good practice.

We hope this will be of use to anyone interested in improving our interaction with data on what works, both service deliverers and funders. It follows our work on using your data effectively, proportionate evaluation and data collection and the different impact questions we need to answer.