There are many free and low-cost data sources that charities can use to help benchmark against others and gain a better understanding of the communities they serve.
‘Knowing is half the battle’ is a maxim often heard when confronting challenges in understanding. For charities, using data to improve performance is half the battle – being creative and knowing how to use that data is key. JustGiving recently highlighted some of the unique ways non-profits are using data – to inform audiences of the scale of the challenges they face and to tell a story. But many charities are using data internally to help understand the people and communiteis they serve, and where to improve. And data to improve performance doesn’t have to be costly – in fact, many online datasets come free of charge. 1- Index of Multiple Deprivation Searching by town or postcode, the Index of Multiple Deprivation helps charities analyse specific areas and the degree of deprivation compared to all areas in England – the data could help charities determine which areas are most in need. The site uses an interactive map based on information from Government statistics to churn out an IMD score, decile rank, and absolute ranking out of the total number of areas included. 2- Companies House Wondering how your competitors are doing? Companies House is the UK’s registrar of companies and charities. All non-profits and charitable organisations must make filings to Companies House, including financial accounts, change of directors, and any updates in ownership. The search function can help data crunchers find and follow registered companies. 3 - Charity Commission Charities looking for colleagues in their sector can use the Charity Commission site to check income and income sources, and search by sector and top ten organisations by other criteria. The website also offers customised a search function, helping charities search the register for comparable non-profits. 4 - Google Trends Free information on what people are searching for on Google is available. Charities can look for the latest trends in the sector and what key terms are popular in what areas – the data could be perfect for charities looking to understand their target audience better, or how to boost their SEO.
5 - Social Searcher Mentions, users and trends are the three criteria Social Searcher users can pull out where charities are mentioned. Search results are displayed in snippets, allowing charities to check which sites have re-posted or mentioned their brand. By consistently performing searches, charities can build up knowledge about their reach. 6 - Instagram Insights Aimed at business customers, Instagram Insights provides basic statistics on accounts with high levels of engagement. The Insights tab can help charities break down how posts, stories and adverts are performing. 7 - Office for National Statistics For data to improve performance on a national level, the ONS is the authority on standardised metrics across the country. Making use of national data can be advantageous for charities charting all sorts of trends across the long-term, as many data sets have been recorded for decades. 8 - United Nations Sustainable Develop Goals Indicators The UN SDG Indicators database can help charities track impact on a global level. Each SDG includes an entire dataset which can be downloaded to Excel for analysis to improve charitable impact. 9 - NVCO’s UK Civil Society Almanac 2019 Perfect for charities wanting more information on the state of the third-sector, the Civil Society Almanac reviews the total number of voluntary organisations in the UK and summarises income sources, grants, assets, workforce, volunteering, and impact. The dataset can also be downloaded for analysis and performance improvement. 10 - Citizens Advice Consumer Reports Find out what citizens are asking, where there’s a demand for services and more from the Citizens Advice Consumer Reports . The annual report offers statistics on homelessness, those affected by poverty, and many other data points on essential services.