Showcasing small charities data journeys

For Small Charity Week and London Data Week 2023, we are sharing five inspiring examples of small charities using their data to create change and further their vision.

At Superhighways we regularly talk to charities and voluntary community groups as they embark on a journey to gather better data.

Over the past two years, we’ve been working with Nissa Ramsay at Think Social Tech to understand more about small charity data journeys. We set out to better understand what and who helps them move forwards, as well as what their key sticking points are.

In our pilot workshop in 2021, we started to outline key elements of their journeys in this blog post.

As you might expect, key turning points included new funding and funder reporting requirements, GDPR legislation, tendering for NHS contracts and new tools. We also started to see the importance of creating a data culture. 

Subsequently, 35 small charities and voluntary groups have now taken part in the research. We’ve interviewed 15 charities to delve deeper into the challenges they face and ran three workshops to map and discuss data journeys in peer groups.

In the coming months we’ll be publishing a report with our findings. 

We undertook a further set of interviews to create data stories.

At the end of the research we realised it’s all too easy to think about data as a painful experience.

It often does involve filling in a lengthy survey, hours of data entry or grappling with excel formulas. It also takes a lot of time to decide what to ask, upskill and enthuse teams to collect data or work with the board to act on data.

However, this pain was often necessary and important to moving forwards. We realised we don’t celebrate data successes enough or recognise why data is so vital to small charities. 

We hope the five short examples which follow give you a flavour of what makes small charity data so special.


Kentish Town Community Centre

We need data to know who's using our centre but more importantly who we're not serving - making a case for a call to action.

Kentish Town Community Centre is an innovative building in the heart of Kentish Town, providing a foodbank service alongside indoor social, exercise and wellbeing activities. They also provide spaces which people can hire for fitness sessions, birthday parties and meetings.

In order for people to access community projects, they developed a simple registration form. This was linked to a QR code, allowing people to access services without needing to sign in and complete the same form every time.

This has allowed them to map demand against indices of multiple deprivation and better target service provision.

Read more about KTCC's approach and advice.


We think it’s great because:

They’ve really worked hard to make life easy for those visiting the centre and their staff, whilst collecting the data they need.

They are using data strategically and informing how they deliver their invaluable services for the community.


Bromley Well, delivered by Bromley Third Sector Enterprise (BTSE)

Better Data has helped us improve reporting, spot trends, improve service delivery and be better advocates for the people we support.

Bromley Well is a partnership with local voluntary sector organisations, managed by BTSE.

It provides a single point of access to services locally, helping people living in Bromley borough to improve and maintain their health and wellbeing. The service is paid for by Bromley Council and NHS South East London Integrated Care Board.

For residents, this means quicker referrals.

For example, an elderly gentleman was referred due to hospital discharge. A house visit found he needed handrails. This was flagged on the system. They were installed within 48 hours.

BTSE uses Charity Log and a shared data partnership across the organisations to achieve this.

They also use Power BI to help spot trends. They can now see that a third of people contacting have a disability and that demand has increased from 12,000 to 14,000 calls a year, with a spike in demand for cost of living support.

They share their insights with the council and use them to create new online resources.

Read more about BTSE's approach and advice.


We think it’s great because:

They’ve invested significant time to get to this point in their systems and data culture. The shared systems enable collaboration between partners and a better understanding of who they are helping and where.


Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and Indo American Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO)

 Data is important, because without it our community remains invisible. If you can collect data then do. 

Latin American Women's Rights Service (LAWRS) and Indo American Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO) supported over 600 Latin Americans to access a GP and Covid vaccinations in Southwark.

They gathered data in community languages during face to face delivery. They also collated case studies to bring data to life, showing barriers in action.

Their report documents the barriers their community faces when accessing healthcare and fills an important gap in evidence about healthcare inequalities. It evidences the need for a grassroots approach.

Read more about LAWRS' approach and advice.


We think it’s great because:

Latin Americans are not included as an ethnicity group in the 2021 Census and in turn, in many monitoring forms. Grassroots data collection has provided vital evidence about healthcare inequalities.

The report helps make this community visible.


Voluntary Action Camden (VAC)

For us the real value is being able to use our data to work with others and help develop services which respond to local needs. 

Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) provides a social prescribing service. The Community Links team connects residents with community-based activities to support health and wellbeing. They use Salesforce to collate data on hundreds of referrals.

Recently, this has shown an emerging need to co-locate wellbeing activities alongside cost of living support. They are collaborating with the council and local voluntary groups to respond.

Read more about VAC's approach and advice.


We think it’s great because:

The team and other organisations are now able to use data to help understand what’s happening locally. They are thinking critically about what their data is telling them, based on what they already know and working closely with others to respond.



Data is persuasive and hard to ignore, especially when external experts are involved. When you publish a report about data, it gives your work legitimacy. 

Sobus is a Community Development Agency and the Council for Voluntary Service in Hammersmith & Fulham.

They set out to explore the prevalence of mental health issues in minority ethnic populations in Hammersmith & Fulham. They knew this was an issue locally and needed detailed local data to convince stakeholders to act.

However, they lacked the data skills to undertake this advanced level of analysis.

They turned to Superhighways for support to design and undertake this project. They also turned to Datakind volunteer data scientists for a datadive combining datasets.

They created a compelling report, which evidenced a high statistically relevant correlation between deprivation, ethnicity and mental health issues. The report has led to new investment in local mental health prevention and support services.

Read more about Sobus' approach and advice here.


We think it’s great because:

Sobus had never taken on an advanced data project like this, but they knew it was desperately needed to advocate for change. They sought support and mobilised their local knowledge, networks and connections to make it a success.


Next steps

We look forward to sharing the full report and research findings with you. In the meantime, small charities and voluntary groups in London can access practical data skills training and support for free with Superhighways.

Find out more on Superhighways website.