Data in Social Sector – Boon or Bane ?

Based on its years of experience working with data of social sector, NuSocia has developed a Social Research Ethics code. The code ensures that beneficiary data is protected and used only for the project purpose. The publically available form of the code can be accessed at the NuSocia website.

Data privacy issues are generally being talked about on social media in relation to the big tech firms but what about the data being collected everyday across the world for the vulnerable clasess. There are no clear policies about such data and if it is brought in, the whole social impact place might actually suffer from lack of publically available data on social parameters.

The Solutions

Given the challenges discussed above, there needs to be a focus on proper training / capacity building for the front line data enumerators in addition to using proper tools for data capturing with in-built mechanisms for validation.

As someone has said, true value of data lies in its usage. Organisations should reflect on what decisions they are looking to drive by collecting a certain set of data. It is actually worthwhile to also do a sample check, possibly with dummy data to review whether what you want to collect will help you achieve your objective.

Recently NuSocia conducted a need assessment exercise in the state of Odisha. There were 13,500+ household data collected on socio-economic parameters through a detailed questionnaire coded into a digital format. Enumerators were trained on the tool and then enumerators went to do the survey in person. While on field for this assessments, constant dialogue between the analysis team and enumeration team ensured that not just data but the mood on the ground is also captured.

Also, while investing in data gathering machinery, systems and resources, organisations must look at what data is required for day-to-day decision making and what is required only for review to decide the periodicity of data gathering. Such data, at appropriate frequency should be made available to all relevant stakeholders in easy to understand formats to increase transparency and accountability.


Data can play an important role in delivering successful programmes. Having said that, anyone who is working at grassroot level in social sector often is seen asking the question, “Can change be summarised in numbers?” We do believe, that if necessary caution are taken, with quality data, social businesses can better address the social challenges, if not really answer the question.

NuSocia is a social impact advisory firm and often engages with data from its raw form to refined forms, towards designing efficient social impact programs for its clients. 

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