Is Social Sector Data Driven? Or Data Driven Mad?

Those of us who run social enterprises and charities collect and use lots of data for all kinds of purposes. Many would argue there’s too much. Business experts tell us we could be sitting on a goldmine if only we could harness this amazing resource.  Yet the reality is that many are stumbling around in blizzards of data which is onerous and frustrating to collect and analyse, and often delivers information which isn’t meaningful, useful, or reliable for decision makers.

Social enterprise Data Orchard CIC has found there are social sector organisations, big and small, using data to do powerful and transformational things. These organisations say data is helping them be smarter, more effective, and more influential. More often though, social entrepreneurs and charity leaders admit that they know data is important and valuable, but they just don’t know how to make it work for their cause and their business. They are grappling with all kinds of data (e.g. from spreadsheets, databases, CRM systems, survey tools, web and social media analytics…plus other research and information sources.) Indeed, some still collect data on paper forms and keep them in filing cabinets.

“It’s difficult to make sense of the data. When we pull it all together it’s like comparing apples, oranges, and bananas”

“We spend so much time and energy collecting data to report to commissioners and funders we don’t have any capacity left to think about how data can shape our own future.”

“We collect lots of data but just haven’t got the skills or tools to analyse it. We’re data rich but information poor.”

The Data Evolution project is trying to find out where social enterprises are at on the data journey, what challenges are faced and what help they need?

They are asking social entrepreneurs to complete a very short (5 minutes) online survey. There is the chance to win £100 for your social enterprise and the opportunity to access a more detailed analysis of where your organisation stands with data.