Charities should get “a kick” from the regulator if they fail to collect data or report the impact they are making, Lord Gus O’Donnell told the Charity Finance Summit this morning.
O’Donnell, chair of Pro Bono Economics, called on the Charity Commission to “champion the idea of impact”, by clamping down on charities failing to collect the relevant data and helping them to improve.
He was delivering the opening plenary the Charity Finance Summit, part of Charity Finance Week, organised by Civil Society Media.
He said: “I have got a lot of hope in the Charity Commission under the new person in charge, Tina Stowell, who worked with me at Number 10, way back, but they have got hardly any money.
“If they were actually to champion the idea of impact, and as a regulator to say ‘let’s see how we can help charities really do their jobs better’, what would be the really important things?
“And if charities were not collecting any data or not looking at their impact, not measuring how they were doing against their outcomes, the regulator ought to give them a kick.
“I think that’s the kind of thing that a good regulator should be doing. And then, having kicked them, give them a help. How do we make them do better?”
‘Make data an organisation-wide priority’
O’Donnell urged charities to make data an “organisation-wide priority” as it is “one of [charities’] most valuable assets”.
He said it was important for small and large charities to collect data “to demonstrate that you are making a difference".
O’Donnell said this is increasingly important because “more grants and fundraising bodies now are going to ask you these serious questions”.
He said charities could also increase their productivity by using data to work out which of their activities are most cost-effective at achieving impact.
O’Donnell urged charities to make use of their “dormant data” and share it will other organisations in the sector.
He said: “I would like charities to get that dormant data that we have all got, or should have, and share it amongst ourselves, share it with other charities.
“If you have got a lot of charities operating in one area, wouldn’t it be brilliant if they all started to put their data out there in an open way so we can all learn from each other.”
An article based on Lord O’Donnell’s speech can be read here.