Supporting civil society organisations to deliver insights and impact from data: an ESRC and UK Data Service workshop, 17 October, Manchester

Categories: Big Data, Mixed

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Are you a professional working in a civil society organisation that collects administrative or evaluation data, and who oversees strategy, reporting and campaigns? Are you interested in improving the way your organisation can translate data into knowledge? If so, please join our workshop with peer organisations to help shape ways of managing and sharing data ethically, analysing data, and gaining insight to develop impact from these rich data resources to promote your work.

The workshop will provide a forum for participants to discuss the opportunities and barriers to gaining meaningful insights from ‘data’ – their own data, data from other organisations and the wider data landscape. The morning session will look at data sources and strategies required for civil society organisations to become successful knowledge managers and report and campaign effectively with data-based evidence. Before lunch we move into a debate on the meaning of evidence and reporting on impact.

In the afternoon we run a hands-on workshop showing how to use some simple open source tools to visualise data, for example, creating a basic regional map using Indicators of Multiple Deprivation. The focus is on turning data into more structured formats so that simple graphs can be represented. This may sound some way from data science analytics, but it is a realistic first achievable step for organisations who do not have capacity or funds to support larger scale collaborative projects.

Our speakers include key representatives from both academia and the charitable sector, including Neil Serougi, Professor John Mohan (University of Birmingham), Professor Alasdair Rutherford (University of Stirling), ESRC, representatives from National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and New Philanthropy Capital, and members of the UK Data Service.

If you are working in a civil society organisation that collects data and are charged with overseeing strategy and campaigns; or are an academic, or work for a public sector body engaged in this area of work, please contact to register your interest. Spaces are limited and participants will be expected to bring a short case study from their organisations in advance to bring along. Limited travel bursaries are available for staff in civil society organisations who do not have access to travel costs themselves. Participants are invited to join us for a drink after the workshop.


Participants will need to bring a laptop for the afternoon hands-on session. They are also encouraged to bring an example of an ethical challenge around using or sharing their own data, and to think about feasibility and practicalities of sharing their own data, plus how they currently gain insight from data.


At the end of October the UK Data Service organised a workshop on “Supporting human rights organisations to deliver insights from data” at the University of Essex, with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim was to further the ESRC’s mission for civil society engagement, with human rights organisations targeted for the first workshop, given that the University of Essex is well-recognised in this field and that these charities face particular challenges around data protection, and hence, wider sharing. Speakers and participants from civil society and philanthropic bodies, academics and journalists united to discuss the kinds of data and evidence that could be shared for transparency and analytic purposes, looking more closely into helping provide solutions for safely sharing and utilising data would benefit the broader civil society sector. Participants reported that the event provided a useful forum to engage with one another to discuss strategies, tools and skills required for civil society organisations to become better knowledge managers, and felt that the work put in to prepare short case studies on data types they shared and some of the key ethical challenges helped engender fruitful discussion. This workshop is inspired by this event.

See the full programme, to register your interest please email booking.

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