Review your existing data

How useful is your existing data?

Organisations often struggle to make the most of the data they already have. Many collect a great deal but find some of it is poor quality or of no use. Before thinking about what more you can do, think about the data you already hold.

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?

Our worksheet outlines a step-by-step process to help you review the type, quality, and purpose of your existing data. You will then be in a position to make decisions about what to continue collecting, what to stop collecting, and what to start collecting.

Reviewing your data during Covid-19

Many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups have to make tough decisions about their activities and resources. We have adapted the above worksheet to support you with decision making in a crisis.

Our new worksheet will help you to decide what information you do/don’t have and what information is useful to you right now. It will help you focus on what you need to shape your organisation’s services and influence change.

Download the worksheet

Review your existing data

This worksheet contains step-by-step guidance to help you review the type, quality, and purpose of your existing data.

The worksheet outlines five different types of data

User data The characteristics of the people you are reaching – e.g. your work may specifically target care leavers, people aged 16-24, or people from a specific socio-economic background.
Engagement data How service users are using your service, and the extent to which they use it – e.g. how often people use your service, for how long, and over what period of time.
Feedback data What people think about the service – e.g. if they enjoy it or find it useful, and which aspects do they like the most and least.
Outcomes data The short-term changes, benefits or assets people have got from the service – e.g. changes in their knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviours, and how this differs depending on their circumstances.
Impact data The long-term difference that has resulted from the service – e.g. the sustained effect of your work on beneficiaries, families, communities and/or the environment.

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

Is the data accurate and consistent? Data is only useful if it is accurate and consistent. If collecting quality data is a challenge for you, explore the culture module for advice on engaging staff.

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?

Adapted from content from Inspiring Impact partner NPC 

Not sure how to answer?

The data diagnostic asks 10 multiple choice questions about what your programme or service is, how it works, and who it targets. It then provides a tailored report recommending what kind of data you should consider collecting and how.

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Decide what data to collect

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Agree your impact goals

What difference do you want your programme or service to make?

Articulate a plan for change

What activities will you to carry out in order to make change happen?

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