Reflections on a dataset | Big Society Capital

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Reflections on a dataset

This is the 5th bi-annual release of social investment deal level data and now captures over 2,500 investments into charities and social enterprises totalling nearly £1.2 billion.

Since the last release the data set has grown significantly with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, CAF Ventursome and Social Investment Business (SIB) all having contributed new deals. Access have now made 99 commitments across five different investors, SIB have made their first submission and CAF Venturesome have provided deal level data going back over a decade.

The aim for this deal level data is that all investors included in our annual market-sizing estimate, also contribute here. We are moving in the right direction and the main gaps remaining are around social banks’ contributions, social property and some charity bonds.

Use the Tableau below to explore the data set and then read on as we think aloud about what might be next for social investment data and also dig a little deeper into the data set.

Who has contributed to the deal level data? What outcome areas are they focussed on? See the ‘Who?’ tab. Which charities and social enterprises have received investment? What legal forms are they? See the ‘Charities & Social Enterprises’ tab. Which areas of the UK have received investment? See the ‘Where?’ tab. What new deals are there? See the ‘When?’ tab.

Here at Big Society Capital we are focussed on using Salesforce to improve the collection and aggregation of impact and financial performance data across our portfolio. Across the social investment sector there are several data projects currently underway and the Connect Fund is supporting several of them. It seems obvious but worth saying that Data standardisation is a key to lowering the cost of data production. It’s exciting to think that in time a sustainable data sharing platform might emerge, and perhaps even some sort of Data Trust may become necessary in order to aggregate and anonymise performance data.

While it is certainly encouraging that this data set continues to grow there are still significant data gaps. There is always a tension between growing the size and growing the quality and to make it even more useful there are several data quality improvements to be made. There are four main fields which are analysed in the deal level data and each one is filled out to a varying degree:

Outcome Area is 99% filled out if Key Fund (pre 2016) and SIB are excluded. (Otherwise 40% null by #, 8% null by sum £).

Beneficiary Group is 82% filled out if Key Fund (pre 2016), CAF V and SIB are excluded. (Otherwise 66% null by #, 17% null by sum £).

Legal Form (50% null by #, 25% null by sum £) & Asset Lock (53% null by #, 24% null by sum £).

Unique identifiers are a key field to focus on as this one field alone will really multiply the usefulness of this data set as it will open up other open data sets (such as the NCVO Almanac). Currently approximately 50% of deals have a unique identifier.

We hope you continue to find the Deal Level Data a useful resource whether you are a social investor or a social enterprise raising investment. The next release of the deal level data will be for the first half of 2018, and will be published in the early autumn. The data set itself can be found here. If you have any questions or suggestions please do reach out.

Last updated | 
26 April 2018

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