Working with charities and data

Earlier this year we wrote about the need for a Data Collective. Here's how we want to turn it into a reality.

Back in June, we published a joint blog outlining ideas for a Data Collective: a coordinated effort by a group of organisations to help charities gather, share and analyse data more effectively.

There are various data collection efforts across the sector, but the work is not coordinated and the data is rarely standardised. This results in knowledge gaps and undermines efforts to collaborate. This problem was amplified by COVID-19, when it became clear that it was difficult to answer basic questions about people’s needs and what services were being offered. The Collective is intended to address this problem.

We asked people who were interested in being involved in the Collective to get in touch, and we were blown away by the response. 

Over 30 organisations contacted us asking how they could participate, including charities, research institutions and funders. Many are involved in research initiatives and want to make it easier to collect and share data within the sector; some want to explore ideas about data standards and best practices; all welcomed the idea of having a dedicated space where they can share, learn and collaborate with peers.

We now want to get practical with this idea (the clue's in the name - we act as a catalyst!). We’d like to bring together all the organisations that expressed an interest in collaborating, in order to explore the next steps on how best to do that, and to decide on priority issues and possible projects for the Collective. 

We are now tendering for a partner to shape and lead this work for the next four months. There is funding in place for this initial phase and we hope to work with the partner to explore how the Collective could continue longer term, where it could be housed and the resources it needs. 

The partner will need to speak to multiple organisations across the sector in order to gather feedback on their needs, and synthesise that information into a coherent whole. Because this is about working with data, the partner will need to understand best practice around collecting and analysing data.

An overview of what the project will involve is available here, including details on what outputs we hope to see and how to submit a proposal. Any questions can be sent to and will be responded to publicly. We welcome applications from all kinds of organisations. The deadline for proposals is 2nd November.

We’re looking forward to working in partnership with others to better understand how COVID-19 has changed the needs of people and communities and to develop best practice approaches to collecting and sharing data within the sector. If this is something you’d like to help run, then have a read of the brief and please get in touch if you have any questions.

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Ellie Hale
Ellie Hale