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Open data and the voluntary sector

Open data and the voluntary sector



David Kane's presentation about open data and what it might mean for your organisation at the NCVO Annual Conference 2011. David is a Research Development Officer at NCVO, ...

David Kane's presentation about open data and what it might mean for your organisation at the NCVO Annual Conference 2011. David is a Research Development Officer at NCVO,




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  • Presentation is in three parts: - the story so far - opportunities of open data - challenges of open data
  • Charities (particularly hospitals) in 19 th Century placed adverts in newspapers listing their subscribers (people who donated to their cause), and adverts asking for people to give more. List is probably from WW1 – acted as an incentive (“nudge”?) for giving, as people wanted the reputational boost of being on the list Not in CSV format though!
  • Later acts also provide for annual reports and accounts to be made available to the public – although some charities had been doing this already.
  • Not all charities, but are not-for-profit. Individual freelance developers key part too. And government of course!
  • As Hadley has outlined
  • In the wake of MPs expenses charity chief executives also published their expenses – led by Sir Stuart!
  • Developers are also entering the field.
  • Worth dwelling on this for a few seconds, as it shows key differences between the approaches. This is perhaps slightly unfair on Charity Commission – they put a lot of effort into gathering and maintaining the register of charities, and the web resource is excellent – particularly when compared to information available on companies (and until recently government). But opencharities shows how better ways of displaying info on the web can produce benefits for sector.
  • Released some of our research data – classifications Also released list of members in reusable format And our accounts in an experimental format
  • There are more – but we’re very much at the beginning of the process, so getting hold of concrete examples is hard!
  • Have tried to include examples, but we’re in early stages of open data so there aren’t many!
  • But need to move beyond “gotchas” like MPs expenses and spending £thousands on pot plants to meaningful lobbying based on evidence. Which services are working, which services aren’t? Are there gaps in provision, or drops in performance?
  • Fresh eyes on the same data – will someone outside your organisation be the best person to see how you could improve? Could you link your data to other sources (eg through mysociety’s MaPit service) to search for areas for improvement.
  • Open data could help to demonstrate your impact – to funders, to donors, to beneficiaries, to staff, to trustees, to the public. Picture is an advert from newspaper in 1860s – using their data to encourage people to give!
  • Government wants to encourage groups to take over public services – you will be able to view all contracts
  • Developers won’t work for free!
  • Has an organisation ever lost funding through saying “we made these mistakes, we can correct them by doing this”?
  • Francis Maude mentioned this at the launch of government spending data – open data might not be an optional extra. And if done right open data could actually lessen the reporting burden, as funders could come direct to your data.