A new data tool for South London VCS

This post is jointly written by me and Charmaine Sainsbury, Partnership Manager at the South London CVS Partnership. South London CVS Partnership (SLCVSP) work across six South London boroughs, supporting the partner CVSs to provide even better services to the local voluntary and community sector.

Over the last few months we’ve been working together to produce a tool that showcases data about local charities in South London. SLCVSP wanted facts and figures about the charities in their area – this is the kind of work that NCVO does quite regularly when organisations are interested in charities of a particular type or located in a particular area.

But we also had another joint interest – in the possibilities of open data. Charmaine had read about the subject and attended events like the Nominet/BIG/NCVO “Opening Doors” event. So we worked together to come up with a service which combined charity statistics with open data.

You can see the results at http://data.ncvo-vol.org.uk/areas/slcvsp. This site gives an overview of local charities in South London, using data from the Charity Commission register of charities. You can find out about their income, expenditure, assets and workforce, and see where they are based on a map. The data is also available for each of the six partnership boroughs individually – Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton.

But we’ve also used the principles behind open data to make this data available. This means you can download the data behind every chart and table as a CSV file (for use in Excel) or even as JSON or XML if you can use those formats.

We’re excited about the possibilities that this approach brings for learning more about the sector in South London and making sure this data is widely used. But what we’ve launched today is a first step into this area.

We’ve got ambitious plans for the tool – we’re particularly keen to bring in open data from other sites (like the Open Data Communities site) to present all the data that is most useful to voluntary organisations in an area. And we also know that the Charity Commission data is just a starting point for data about the sector – we hope that CVSs will be able to share their in-depth local knowledge of the sector too.

We want to know what you think of the tool – you can let us know by leaving a comment below or emailing almanac@ncvo-vol.org.uk.

David Kane and Charmaine Sainsbury

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David Kane David Kane was formerly NCVO’s Senior Research Officer. He discusses open data and emerging trends in the voluntary and community sector and wider civil society.

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