Sector bodies call for Covid-19 'data collective'

In an open letter, groups including the NCVO, Citizens Advice and the British Red Cross say the move would aid understanding of the financial impacts of the pandemic

A group of 15 major voluntary sector organisations has called for the creation of a “data collective” that will enable charities and other sector bodies to more effectively share information about the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the think tank NPC, the British Red Cross and Citizens Advice are among the organisations to have signed an open letter proposing the move.

The aim is to improve the visibility of data and to understand which groups are affected most by the financial impacts of the pandemic.

The letter, published on the website of Catalyst, an alliance of civil society organisations, funders and digital agencies working to increase the resilience of the UK charity sector, warns of a “lack of cohesion” among sector organisations.

It says that the organisations “want to make sure that people in charities, on the front line and in leadership positions, have access to the information they need, in a timely fashion, in the easiest possible format to understand, with the clearest possible analysis of what it means for them”.

It says the signatories are not proposing to develop a single approach to collecting and sharing data across the sector because that would not be feasible and would ignore the reasons that organisations need different data to do different things.

“Instead, we are inviting organisations that are leading data initiatives to share their work publicly and to practically explore how they can support others to use it, contribute to it and collaborate on doing that,” it says.

The letter also looks at how charities, funders and other related organisations can address the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and asks those organisations questions about how the lockdown has financially affected people and the organisations that serve them.

The organisations have identified key areas that need addressing both now and in the future. 

The signatories have agreed to start working together on new collaborative datasets about how the sector is responding to Covid-19 and create a mapping of different data-collection efforts across the sector.

Separately, future areas of improvement have been identified, including approaches to collecting and standardising data and better presenting it so that non-experts can understand it.

The letter says that the shared insight is “particularly needed during the current crisis and supporting recovery plans”, but the data collective is also a long-term initiative.

To find out more, email here.

The signatories to the letter

British Red Cross


Centre for Youth Impact

Citizens Advice

DataKind UK

London Plus


New Philanthropy Capital

Open Data Instituste

Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion

Pro Bono Economics


SIB Group



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